ABSTRACT

If participatory spaces merely provide decision-makers with a mechanism of reproduction, as previous chapters suggest, then is there any reason to think that citizens can accomplish any significant social change by participating? In this chapter, I show that while participation serves powerful actors’ political interests, it also reveals their dependence on the cooperation of people that lack political resources. Participation becomes a means to work for change because it opens a space not only for reproducing unequal terms of social cooperation but also for renegotiating them. This chapter will focus on two aspects of renegotiation as it occurs in spaces of participation. First, people’s beliefs about what is appropriate in civic life affect their motivation and their personal, affective relation to a mode of participation. I will call this aspect the ethics of participation. Second, people’s understanding of why others value their cooperation may give them reasonable expectations to receive mutual respect and consideration. I call this participants’ deliberative capital.