Edited by Neri Salvadori and Arrigo Opocher
Chapter 15: Participatory Planning of Economic Development: The Co-evolution of Economic Theory and Policy
Martina Pignatti Morano 15.1. INTRODUCTION Most professional economists and moral philosophers have claimed in recent centuries that economic allocation can be carried out either by markets or by central planning, since human nature and modern technology rule out egalitarian and participatory options. The concept of ‘participation’ appeared in development studies in the late 1960s as a ‘rallying cry for a dissenting vision of development’ (Francis, 2002, p. 400), but it has been partly absorbed now by the mainstream discourse. Starting from the radical philosophy of ‘conscientization’ (Freire, 1968), widespread in Latin America, which encouraged communities to rethink collectively the causes of their poverty and oppression, the participatory approach finally entered the declaration of 117 heads of state at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development: it was recognized that: ‘empowering people … is a main objective of development and its principal resource. Empowerment requires the full participation of people in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of decisions determining the functioning and well being of our societies’ (UNDP, 1995, par. 26, quoted in Francis, 2002, p. 401). The present survey attempts an evaluation of the trajectories followed during the 20th century by economic policy and economic thought regarding participatory approaches to economic allocation of resources, with specific focus on economic planning in developing countries. Despite the generally negative evaluation given by conventional economic theory on the pursuit of public participation in development processes, recent economic analysis of social capital and social preferences highlights the feasibility and desirability of participatory mechanisms of economic...
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