Between governance‐driven democratisation and democracy‐driven governance: Explaining changes in participatory governance in the case of Barcelona
Scholars of participatory democracy have long noted dynamic interactions and transformations within and between political spaces that can foster (de)democratisation. At the heart of this dynamism lie (a) the processes through which top‐down “closed” spaces can create opportunities for rupture and democratic challenges and (b) vice‐versa, the mechanisms through which bottom‐up, open spaces can be co‐opted through institutionalisation. This paper seeks to unpick dynamic interactions between different spaces of participation by looking specifically at two forms of participatory governance, or participatory forms of political decision making used to improve the quality of democracy. First, Mark Warren’s concept of ‘governance‐driven democratization’ describes top‐down and technocratic participatory governance aiming to produce better policies in response to bureaucratic rationales. Second, we introduce a new concept, democracy‐driven governance, to refer to efforts by social movements to invent new, and reclaim and transform existing, spaces of participatory governance and shape them to respond to citizens’ demands. The paper defines these concepts and argues that they co‐exist and interact in dynamic fashion; it draws on an analysis of case study literature on participatory governance in Barcelona to illuminate this relationship. Finally, the paper relates the theoretical framework to the case study by making propositions as to the structural and agential drivers of shifts in participatory governance.
Photo: Ben Allan