From Participatory Mechanisms to Participation Policies: The Example of the French Regional Councils

Special Report: Participation and Public Action
By Guillaume Gourgues

This article proposes to go beyond the question of the effects of participatory democracy on public policies, to consider the way in which the uses of participatory settings are framed by the internal logic of the various public action subsystems. Based on the cases of four French regional councils, we firstly argue that the effects of participatory democracy cannot be understood without an analysis of power struggles and actors’ strategies. We secondly highlight that the multiplication of participatory settings stimulated the emergence of real public policies of participation, which aim to act on the “problem” of how active citizens are.


  • policy making
  • subsystem
  • procedural policies
  • government
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