This article introduces the main ideas and presents the individual contributions of a special issue on alternative forms of participation in water democracy. Public participation has, since the 1960s, played a role in water management in France and elsewhere. However, as many of our authors point out and as we discuss in this article, this “institutionalized” participation has significant shortcomings, often reinforcing technocratic forms of regulating water resources and aquatic environments. Experimenting with new and alternative forms of participation (especially through practicing participatory research, promoting participatory science, developing new techniques for role playing involving water management, etc.) suggests how citizens in collaboration with researchers in the humanities and social sciences can contribute to water management in novel ways, producing more satisfactory participatory experiences and leading to alternative water management possibilities. This introduction thus offers a critical analysis of institutionalized participatory processes and presents alternative approaches to participation, suggesting possibilities for their potential hybridization.
- water governance
- participatory research and sciences
- citizen regulation