Making gay and lesbian people responsible citizens. The elitist construction of a minority group using a device of participatory democracy in Boston in the early 1980s

Special report—Analyzing the social categorization of minority populations
By Hugo Bouvard

Through the study of a device of participatory democracy implemented in Boston in 1983, this article explains the ways in which policymakers created a “new” population, namely “gay and lesbian citizens.” I analyze the rationale behind this categorization process, focusing on the sociodemographic characteristics of the participants. While the design of the device of participatory democracy acknowledged the heterogeneity of the target population, elitist and socially selective approaches were nevertheless at play in the recruitment of “experts” with a high level of educational capital. In order to pacify relations between the city’s gay and lesbian community and the public authorities, the organizing committee of the device promoted a psychologizing approach to social relations.

  • citizen participation
  • population
  • categorization\
  • minority groups
  • sexual minorities
  • United States of America
  • Boston
  • citizenship at a local level
  • political representation
  • clientelism
  • psychologization of social relations
  • Boston Project
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