Participation Patterns in Local Democracy: Ordinary and Extraordinary Courses of Commitment

Special Report: Varia
By Guillaume Petit

What does a municipal offer of participation mean and imply? This paper questions how such offers can be convincing—under what conditions and to what point—when participants embrace institutional offers differently. The analysis of the multiple individual trajectories and positioning among the public of participatory mechanisms helps us to understand how what is said to be a political innovation is also anchored in an ordinary state of local involvement. From this viewpoint, this paper stresses conditions for a participatory movement that are not only prefigured in a preexisting environment, from which the notions of ordinary and extraordinary participation courses of commitment arise. This research in progress is part of a larger concern with hypothetical social claims for participation, and how such claims are constructed and taken in account by participatory mechanisms. A better understanding of how a granted participatory opportunity is or is not grasped by some citizens allows us to gain access to a contextual range of answers about people’s preferences regarding political process and how they want to be involved in it.


  • participatory democracy
  • public participation
  • local politics
  • publics
  • social demand
  • motives
Go to the article on