Sherry R Arnstein – Citizen Participation is Citizen Power

June 19, 2017

This seminal text was first introduced to me by a wonderful teacher, Geoff Wykurz as part of my Masters in Community Development 20 years ago.

Sherry Arnstein wrote as an American housing activist in the late 1960’s. In light of recent events at Grenfell Tower, this could have been written yesterday and I would like as many people as possible to read it today. Arnstein describes citizen participation as ‘the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future.’

The illustration is from the original article and is a French student poster. In English, “I participate, you participate, he participates, we participate, you participate…they profit.”

You can read the article at this link – please share this as widely as possible and lets stop running round the hamster wheel of rhetoric and get on with the important business of working collectively for a healthy society made up of people who are valued equally for all that they can bring.

Originally published as Arnstein, Sherry R. “A Ladder of Citizen Participation,” JAIP, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969, pp. 216-224.


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