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Making Popular Participation Real

African and International Experiences


Edited By György Széll and Dasarath Chetty

The onset of democracy in South Africa provided South Africans with the opportunity to build a truly democratic, non-racial, non-sexist society in which there would be opportunity for all to make material, social and intellectual progress. This vision was enshrined in a Constitution intent on deepening democracy by treating people with dignity and ensuring that democratic participation was not restricted to a trip to the voting booth once every five years. To give democracy real meaning, the Constitution declared that municipalities, in particular, must facilitate public participation for true legitimacy in its development endeavours. Various mechanisms have been put in place to achieve this objective, but the process has not been without its impediments and difficulties. This book reviews the context, approaches and challenges to the public participation process using international comparisons.

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Participation, Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility in Germany, Europe and on an International Level


Volkmar Kreissig

Abstract: Based on more than 25 years of scientific studies done by the author the article argues that the discussions associated with ‘participation’ have increasingly been linked with ‘corporate’ or ‘good’ governance and corporate social responsibility. Corporate governance includes those who own private property and other shareholders and stakeholders such as managers, specialists, workers and citizens who all play a role in decision making. The German society has over 100 years of experience in active worker participation in decision making and implementation, and this is compared with other European and US models of corporate governance. It is contended that British and American approaches exclude intensive direct participation, communication and information flows which are part of the German approach.

Participation is generally defined as, “to take part”, and in the area of social sciences it is described as, “directly or indirectly taking part in the decision making processes”. That means the inclusion of individuals and organizations (so-called stakeholders) in decision-making processes, which affect them. From an emancipatory point of view, dealing with legitimation or increased effectiveness, participation is often seen as desirable. Participation can take different organizational forms, which include civil participation, operational co-determination, and the actions of pressure groups, amongst others. As such, participation is valid and socially relevant because it can lead to the construction of social capital and thereafter reinforces the organization’s strengths. This may include voluntary participation by individuals or groups in this process.

Participation also implies having decision...

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