• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Article

Power, Policy, and Citizen Participation in Santo André, Brazil

Latin American Perspectives. 2017. Vol. 44. No. 2. P. 149-167.

City master plans assumed a central role in urban planning in Brazil with the promulgation of a new constitution in 1988 and the passage of enacting legislation in 2001. Citizen participation became an important part of this new urban planning framework. In contrast to some of Brazil’s other democratic experiments, participation in urban planning has been received critically or with only cautious optimism. A comparison of two participatory forums in Santo André, São Paulo, shows that established patterns of administrative power can decisively influence the participation of the public in city planning. Differences in the executive structures of the two institutions enabled one of them but not the other to foster open-ended deliberation on policies with members of disadvantaged groups. The study suggests that participation might be enhanced by reserving executive positions for civil society participants, including the public at all stages of policy development, choosing participants largely from disadvantaged groups, and keeping the forum small.