A participatory activity offers and encourages the participation of individuals and groups.
Future-oriented activities can be considered participatory if:
- they involve participants from at least two different stakeholder groups (e.g. researchers and business people; experts and policy-makers; experts and laymen);
- they disseminate their preliminary results (e.g. analyses, tentative conclusions and policy proposals) among interested 'non-participants', e.g. face-to-face at workshops, over the internet with free access for everyone, or in the form of printed documents, leaflets, newsletters;
- they seek feedback from this wider circle (again, either face-to-face or in written form).
Conversely, activities that do not meet any of these criteria cannot be regarded as a participatory.
The demand for a participatory approach reflects the desire for greater democratisation and legitimacy in political processes. Moreover, it builds on the increasing awareness that no single body (especially not a government agency!) can know everything that needs to be known in order to effect the desired changes. Knowledge is distributed widely, and decision-makers have to live with this, and develop their intelligence-gathering methods accordingly. [Based on a definition by Attila Havas]
More information on the practical guidelines or approaches for participatory processes (How can participation be organised? What methods are available and when and how are they applied? What are the implications for the budget and staff?) can be found in: