Developing Participation Through Projects?
A Case Study from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Since the 1990s, social scientists in Western countries have noticed a shift in policy-making towards networks and the involvement of civil society and market actors, usually referred to as governance. The governance approach has gone hand in hand with the development of more participatory and deliberative forms of action both in research and in the work of policy-makers and practitioners. Even though a number of scholars emphasise the participatory and deliberative potentials of governance and the role that elected politicians play in “metagovernance”, governance can still be seen as a risk to the basic principles and institutions of representative democracy. Further, governance arrangements are often put into practice through projects and related fixed-term policy instruments and organisation forms. The main interest in this study is what happens to citizen participation when it is developed through projects. <!–more–> The research questions concern the relationship between projects and the broader framework of governance and metagovernance; the main issues in the development of participation in municipalities and especially in metropolitan governance; the role of participation itself when it becomes a development object; and the relationship between projects and the permanent municipal administration. This research addresses these themes through a case study, a project named Citizen Channel which aimed to find and test various forms of citizen participation in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and which was part of a broader development programme for the region. Publications of the Faculty of Social Sciences 6 (2016) Political Science