It is well known that successful experiences do not only depend on several conditions, but the very idea of success needs to be clarified and defined in a measurable way. It is possible to address this challenge―measuring the outcomes and reach of citizen participation―by focusing on priority inversion in policy-making processes, that is the capacity of participatory governance to challenge status quo, making policies more inclusive and redistributive. This is the question that drives Chance to Sustain Project’s team research in Brazil. Although it is an ongoing research, it is possible to draw a few lessons about building successful participatory experience based on our preliminary findings.


Chance to Sustain in Brazil belongs to a new generation of research which analyzes participatory experiences in innovative manners. An important shift is analyzing participatory spaces embedded in broader democratic governance structures. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s it was usual to focus research on one specific participatory institution and on one single case—for instance, participatory budgeting, or health councils. However, there is a growing perception among scholars and policy makers that participatory spaces must not be understood as isolated devices. Conversely, factors that may promote priority inversion in policy making could not only be located within the participatory spaces themselves (including their actors and internal dynamics), but within the democratic governance structure as a whole. The research analyses three participatory governance structures at municipal level: Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Guarulhos.


So far, our research shows, indeed, that democratic governance structure affects the capabilities of priority inversion of specific participatory institutions. 


Chance2Sustain Policy Brief Series - ISSN 2305-5960

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