Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780745336176 Published July 2016 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780745336121 Published October 2016 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada

The Limits to Citizen Power

Participatory Democracy and the Entanglements of the State

Victor Albert

The Limits to Citizen Power

Victor Albert

Distributed for Pluto Press

224 pages | 5 1/3 x 8 1/2 | © 2016
Paper $32.00 ISBN: 9780745336176 Published July 2016 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780745336121 Published October 2016 For Sale in All Americas and the Caribbean except Canada
Today, Brazil is celebrated as a laboratory for popular, participatory forms of government. However, no political project can exist entirely outside the power relations from which it emerges. Participatory Democracy and the Entanglements of the State offers a fascinating window into the power relations between political appointees, public officials, and local community activists in a Brazil still emerging from its autocratic past. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research, Victor Albert provides a critical analysis of citizen participation in Santo André, in the region of Greater São Paulo, where the Workers’ Party was founded. He explores the challenges participants face as they take part in institutions pervaded by the administrative culture of the state and how some participants engage in what is a tenuous, and at times mutually distrustful, tactical and strategic relationship with political patrons.
Contents

Introduction
1. Democratisation, Reform and Participation in Brazil
2. Rituals and Ritualisation
3. Participatory Budgeting: Ritualisations of petitioning and power 
4. Embedded Participatory Institutions: The Urban Development Council and the Housing Council
5. Shared Practices, Contrasting Ideologies
6. Backstage
Conclusion: Reimagining Participatory Democracy
Notes
Bibliography 
Index
Review Quotes
Choice

"The Limits to Citizen Power offers a rich, clear-eyed analysis of the role of power in municipal budgeting councils, urban development councils, and housing councils in a single city. Examining rituals and the spatial setup of meeting rooms—subjects often neglected in the political science literature—Albert finds that even in newer participatory institutions state power tends to reproduce itself, a result that members of civil society recognize and discuss openly. Participatory institutions in Santa André do offer citizens new avenues of access to the state, but they prove not to be a panacea for radical democratization. This book is a useful adjunct to the existing literature on deliberative and participatory democracy but will be of greatest interest to specialists. Recommended."

Maria da Glória Gohn, University of Campinas, Brazil
"This is a book about participatory democracy in Brazil in spaces organised by the state. It presents the contest for political power within states structures showing us that it is not enough the existence of democratic processes to provide an active and participatory society. How this process occurs will give sense and meaning."
 
Brian Wampler, Boise State University
"This book takes readers deep inside the interworking of the one of world’s most well-known participatory experiences. The richly layered case study and sharp analysis demonstrate the real constraints placed on participatory programs by the modern state. Albert’s excellent contribution to the study of citizen participation illuminates the problems of embedding participatory democracy inside existing state structures."
 
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