Volume 48 Number 1A
Published: October 3, 2017
The rapid growth and acceptance of the concept of participation has been a key feature in development in the 1990s, and is central to the evolving discussion on social exclusion. While during the 1970s and 1980s, 'participation' was more the discourse of grassroots organisations or NGO, this decade has seen the concept being embraced at the institutional and governmental level. The World Bank Working Group on Participation is seen as an authoritative source on participation in development. The Bank has launched 18 flagship participation projects internationally An Inter-agency Group on Participation has been established to promote participation amongst aid agencies. The UNDP is incorporating participation as a critical path for poverty alleviation. Encouraged by aid organisations, national governments are being urged to decentralise, and to democratise through strengthening community participation and planfling at the local and regional levels. In this article, I will briefly discuss the links between the concepts of participation and social exclusion. Then, turning to the context of the United States, I will present a short history of three government programmes that have attempted to use participation to address poverty and social exclusion. Finally, I will conclude with themes which emerge from this history and which may be relevant for the South, as participation is increasingly used as an institutionalised strategy for addressing poverty.