Beyond community participation? Alternative routes to civil engagement and development in South Africa

Emmett, T (2000) Beyond community participation? Alternative routes to civil engagement and development in South Africa. Development Southern Africa, 17 (4). pp. 501-518.

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Although community participation still enjoys a high level of support across various sectors in South Africa, its practice is fraught with conceptual and practical difficulties. This paper starts out by examining some of the problems and limitations associated with community participation, including the heterogeneity and fragmentation of many poor communities, the lack of social and material resources and community members' expectations of receiving a return from their involvement in development projects. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) or participatory learning and action (PLA) is used as an example to illustrate some of the conceptual and theoretical limitations that characterise most approaches to participatory development. In particular it is argued that approaches such as PRA/PLA lack the theoretical basis for effectively getting to grips with the problems of participatory development. What is needed is a conceptual framework not only to understand the responses of communities, but also to locate such communities within their socio-economic contexts. The second part of the paper therefore examines three developments in social science theory that may be able to contribute to the development of a richer conceptual framework for popular participation. These are the concept of social capital, the asset-based approach to development, and the debate around the role of the state in development.

Item Type: Article
Author Affiliation: Senior research specialist, Public Policy Analysis Group: Democracy and Governance, Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria.
Subjects: Social Sciences
Divisions: General
Depositing User: Mr Siva Shankar
Date Deposited: 29 Feb 2012 09:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 09:00
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