Participation under the Protection of Bureaucracy

Special Report: Participation and Public Action
The Effects of Dialogue with Families
By Lorenzo Barrault-Stella

Based on an ethnographic inquiry, this article questions the participatory mechanisms organized by General Councils in the context of drawing up the school districting map, without restricting the analysis to the debates themselves. The study of the political and bureaucratic conditions for participation by the families, and of the dynamics of the debates, provides an explanation for the restricted power of the constituents in the drawing up of the map and the paradoxical contribution of dialogue to the individualization of family strategies. The article offers a process analysis of the effects of participation which is attentive to the temporalities and relational structures in policy making.


  • participatory set-ups
  • educational policy
  • constituents
  • depoliticization
  • expertise
  • legitimization
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