ABSTRACT

To understand what participation can come to mean and what it can accomplish, we need to return to the interests involved and how they not only shape the boundaries of participatory spaces but also, in some cases, provide opportunities to renegotiate the terms of cooperation. In the previous chapter, we saw that councilors in Rosario’s participatory budget construct their own set of ethical codes and basis for recognition. But the councilors risk becoming part of the government’s legitimization strategy without gaining any new advantages, unless they build the collective leverage that they need to advance their communities’ interests. The risk of co-optation, I argue, can be avoided if the councilors can use the government’s need for legitimacy to their advantage. This need is what makes participatory budgeting strategically important for the government. But it is also what can give the councilors the leverage they need to renegotiate the terms of their cooperation.