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Depoliticising development: the uses and abuses of participation

Image is illustrative. Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Participation must be seen as political. There are always tensions underlying issues such as who is involved, how, and on whose terms. While participation has the potential to challenge patterns of dominance, it may also be the means through which existing power relations are entrenched and reproduced. The arenas in which people perceive their interests and judge whether they can express them are not neutral. Participation may take place for a whole range of unfree reasons. It is important to see participation as a dynamic process, and to understand that its own form and function can become a focus for struggle.