An all en-compassing label used to describe the various mechanisms that individuals or groups may use to communicate their views on a public issue
According to Pring and Noé (Pring and Noé, 2002), public participation is an “all en-compassing label used to describe the various mechanisms that individuals or groups may use to communicate their views on a public issue”. In the book Human Rights in Natural Resources, Pring and Noé recognize the difficulty of defining public participation, which is why their definition is not very precise. Sherry Arnstein, well-known for her article "A Ladder of Citizen Participation" (1969), defines citizen participation as "the redistribution of power that enables the havenot citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future". It needs to be noted that Arnstein’s definition is rather old and that the public is not completely “excluded” anymore from “political and economic process”. Also, the public may include other types of actors than mere citizens. The fact that she mentions citizen “power” in her definition makes it relevant still because that is what participation is about; giving the public more power in decision-making. She also emphasizes the promotion of public participation, which was in her time of greater importance because it was still a relatively new concept. Public participation means different things to different people.
- Pring, G., Noé, Susan Y., International Law of Public Participation in Zillman et al., Human Rights in Natural Resource Development, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2002 (p. 15)
- Arnstein, Sherry R. “A Ladder of Citizen Participation,” Journal of the American Institute of Planners, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969