|From:||Tony Chenhansa <email@example.com>|
|Date:||Thu, 8 Apr 1999 16:16:58 -0700 (PDT)|
|Subject:||Social Equity and City Planning|
This essay was originally sent by Emery Graham of Wilmington, DE. The author uses a ladder as analogy to describe the 8 levels of citizen participation. The essay examines the meaning of citizen participation and analyzes the Model Cities Program implemented in the late 60's. "Participation without redistribution of power is a frustrating and empty process for the powerless and it enables those with power to claim that although only a few really benefit, all sides were considered." Level 1 = Manipulation Level 2 = Therapy Level 3 = Informing Level 4 = Consultation Level 5 = Placation (or concessions) Level 6 = Partnerships Level 7 = Delegationed Power Level 8 = Citizen Control Can anyone offer additional details about the "Model Cities" program? Tony Chenhansa ==================== From: Emery Graham <"egraham"@ci.wilmington.de.us> http://www.pitt.edu/~jimmyd/courses/pia2740/spring98/notes97/s97x0909.htm Jeremy Parnes - week 9 - Social Equity and City Planning A Ladder of Citizen Participation - Sherry Arnstein - from Classic Readings in Urban Planning While everyone claims to be in favor of citizen participation, a fundamental principle of the American government, many shy away from this claim when this principle is advocated by minorities or the have-nots of our country. This essay examines what citizen participation is and what its relationship is to the social imperatives of the late 1960's (when this was originally written). Arnstein defines citizen participation as " the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future (p.351). It is the means by which significant social reform that enables the have-nots to share in the benefits of an affluent society is induced. Participation without redistribution of power is a frustrating and empty process for the powerless and it enables those with power to claim that although only a few really benefit, all sides were considered. Arnstein believes that this is what happened with the Model Cities and the Community Actions programs. Arnstein defines eight levels of participation and compares the analysis to a ladder, with each rung representing the extent of the citizens' power in determining the end product. The analysis can also be applied to the structure of the church, of universities, of businesses and even of police departments. The first two rungs of the ladder are considered to be nonparticipatory levels. " The real objective," states Arnstein, " is not to enable people to participate in planning or conducting programs, but to enable powerholders to 'educate' or 'cure' the participants (p.360). Manipulation, the lowest level of participation, is an illusory form of participation in which people are given advisory positions just so the powerholders can engineer their support. Such was the case with urban renewal programs when the elite were invited by city housing officials to sit on Citizen Advisory Committees (CAC's). The elites had manipulative agendas that emphasized " information gathering and " public relations as the primary functions of the CAC's. " Yet it was the officials who educated, persuaded, and advised the citizens, not the reverse (p.362). This, according to Arnstein, is typical of most grassroots participation projects. Therapy is the second lowest rung on the ladder. Dishonest and arrogant, " its administrators - mental health experts from social workers to psychiatrists - assume that powerlessness is synonymous with mental illness (p.363), explains Arnstein. What planning citizens are involved in is really a masquerade for clinical group therapy. " Citizens are engaged in extensive activity, but the focus of it is on curing their 'pathology' rather than changing the racism and victimization that create their 'pathologies' (p.363)." Rungs three to five are based on degrees of tokenism, in which the have-nots have voices, but their voices are not heeded by the powerholders. The third level of participation is the Informing level, which is a one-way communication from the government through the media to the citizens informing them of their rights, responsibilities and options. While this can be the most important step toward legitimate citizen participation, there is often no citizen feedback or negotiation. In the planning process, people are often given information at a time when it is too late for them to have any real opportunity to influence the program. Consultation is the fourth stage. Although citizens are often consulted through surveys, neighborhood meetings and public hearings, consulting must be combined with other modes of participation to ensure that their ideas and concerns will be taken into account. Writes Arnstein, " What citizens achieve…is that they have 'participated in participation.' And what power holders achieve is the evidence that hey have gone through the required motions of involving 'those people' (p.365). Without having any say on the specific plans of a Model Cities program, people in New Haven " participated by simply voting on the " controversial" issue of being in favor or not of health clinics. It is at the fifth rung, Placation, " that citizens begin to have some degree of influence, though tokenism is still apparent (p.366). " Worthy citizens are appointed to boards on Community Action Agencies or on public bodies for education, police commissions or housing authorities. As is the case with many of the Model Cities programs, since citizens are appointed by powerholders, there are only accountable to those who appointed them. Therefore, it is only the powerholders who judge their ideas, their advice and their overall usefulness. In some cases, citizen boards and task forces have rights and responsibilities that are ambiguous or even not defined at all. Referring to HUD's Community Demonstration Agency (CDA's) and their policymaking boards, Arnstein writes that " Citizens, drawing on past negative experiences with local powerholders, were extremely suspicious of this new panacea program. They were legitimately distrustful of city hall's motives (p.365)." The three highest rungs of the ladder relate to degrees of real citizen power, or degrees of decision making clout. Partnership is the sixth level. Power is actually redistributed through negotiation between powerholders and citizens. Through structures such as joint policy boards and planning committees, they agree to share planning and decision making responsibilities. Partnerships are most effective when " there is an organized power-base in the community to which the citizen leaders are accountable (p.369)" and when the citizen group has a strong financial backing. Arnstein explains that only 15 of the first 75 cities in the model Cities program have reached this level of participation, and in all but one of the 15 cases, power is shared because it was seized by the citizens, not because it was given by the city. Members of Philadelphia's Area Wide Council (AWC), for example, constitute five of the 11 seats on the Philadelphia CDA. The AWC has a $20,000 monthly budget and is able to initiate plans of its own and review plans made by other city agencies. Delegated power is the seventh stage. Negotiations between citizens and public officials " result in citizens achieving dominant decision making authority over a particular plan or program citizens hold the significant cards to assure accountability of the program to them (p.370). In New Haven, for example, a neighborhood corporation was created to prepare the entire Model Cities program. The corporation gets $110,000 out of HUD's $117,000 planning grant to the city to hire its own planning staff and consultants. The corporation also has 11 representatives on the 21 member CDA board. The eighth and highest level of citizen participation, citizen control, occurs when " have-nots obtain the majority of decision making seats, or full managerial power (p.361). According to Arnstein, while no one in this country has absolute control, " people are demanding that degree of power which guarantees that participants can govern a program or institution, be in full charge of policy and managerial aspects and be able to negotiate the conditions under which 'outsiders' may change them (p.271). Most frequently advocated is a neighborhood corporation with no intermediaries between it and the source of its funds. Finally, Arnstein admits that " In actuality, neither the have-nots nor the powerholders are homogeneous blocks (p.361)." Additionally, her analysis does not account for the significant roadblocks to achieving genuine levels of participation - racism, paternalism and resistance to the redistribution of power on the side of the powerholders and feelings of distrust, alienation and the inadequacies of most poor communities' socioeconomic infrastructure and knowledge base on the side of the have-nots. I find this to be a very interesting paper. I think Arnstein phrases it very well when she describes in her opining that most Americans say they support citizen participation only as long as the redistribution of power is not mentioned. Although her article was written in 1969, I think it's pretty safe to say that at very least there are many out there who feel the same way now. I also agree with her that the level of citizen participation can be measured along a continuum. In a federal system such as ours, though, it may be more difficult to measure citizen participation as Arnstein does. Everyday citizens working in the Model Cities program, for example, were involved on the local level. People working in CDC's today are also involved on the local level. They may be working within federal regulations or for federal funding, but they are not necessarily participating on the federal level. CDC's in fact, are needed to fill the voids left by all levels of governments. Those working in or with CDC's are engaging - are participating - in activities that are meant to improve both current and future conditions, but again, they are not necessarily participating in governmental activities, let alone federal activities. I guess the question that I am not sure how to answer is what does citizen participation in a democratic country really mean? Arnstein defines citizen participation as " the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future (p.351). Her Participatory stage (the 7th), though, deals with citizens attaining dominant decision making authority over a particular plan or program. Given her main comparison to the Model Cities program, I can see why this stage is considered such a high level of citizen participation. On the grand scheme of things, however, giving citizens dominant decision making authority over a specific plan or program, without giving citizens similar powers on other programs, seems to me to be just another way to placate demands for participation. What better way to quiet an angry crowd by giving them what they want but only to a very limited extent? The people in New Haven's Model Cities neighborhood corporation were given a great deal of authority. But I wonder, without knowing anything about this corporation other than what Arnstein explains, just how much of a redistribution of power there really was. The other issue I question involves the Manipulation stage and Arnstein's notion that, typical of most grassroots participation projects, the elites had manipulative agendas that emphasized " information gathering and " public relations" as the primary functions of the grassroots organization. " Yet it was the officials who educated, persuaded, and advised the citizens, not the reverse (p.362). Yes, a mutual exchange of ideas is very important, but if have-nots have been excluded from the political and economic processes, then naturally, any type of grassroots organizing must involve some sort of information exchanges. The organizers must organize - they must inform and persuade the have-nots that there is a reason to fight for a redistribution of power. How genuine the organizers' concern is for the have-nots is, however, another story. <A HREF="http://www.geog.mcgill.ca/social.html">Social issues of environmental equity</A> - from the geography department of McGill University. This site deals with environmental resources and has some links to some studies. <A HREF="http://www.lib.uconn.edu/ArcticCircle/SEEJ">Arctic Circle - Social Equity and Environmental Justice</A> - This site deals with the effects of colonialism and social inequity in the Arctic on the indigenous people of the north. A paper on <A HREF="http://www.igc.apc.org/envjustice/ejplan.html">Environmental Liberty and Social Justice For All</A> - How Advocacy Planning Can Help Environmental Racism.
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