Chapter 24: Participatory budgeting: contributions to reversing social and spatial priorities
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This chapter explores to what extent and through which practices participatory budgeting contributed over the last three decades to reversing social and spatial priorities for the benefit of the most deprived areas and disadvantaged social groups. Informed by 19 local studies, interviews with leading world PB specialists and a multi-lingual literature review, different innovative approaches, methods and tools are organised under various forms of PB: Actor-Based PB that consists in earmarking budgetary resources for specific groups; Place based PBs targeting deprived or disadvantaged areas; Thematic based PB and their combinations such as sectorial + actor-based PB, or comprehensive PB with affirmative actions. However, the chapter goes beyond positive practices and identifies numerous pitfalls to be avoided and risks as underlined by practitioners, under five dimensions: participatory; financial and budgetary; institutional and normative; spatial and finally political. The analysis leads to three conclusions: [a] PB can reverse social and spatial priorities through multiple ways, and this is good news; [b] the most successful ones are those PB working “with” people and not “for” people and [c] cities and regions combine creatively different forms of PBs [actors’ based, thematic and place based] to increase their social impact. These results are still limited and suggest that more research should be conducted to provide comprehensive knowledge and know-how, largely missing still.

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