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Abstract

This article develops two conceptual models, based on empirical data, for assessing deliberation and decision making within United States adoptions of Participatory Budgeting (PB). The first model is results oriented whereas the second model is process oriented. The two models evince the tension between inclusiveness and efficiency that emerge as U.S. PB tries accommodating the dual goals of improved short-term service delivery and democratic deepening. Each model satisfies one of these deliberate goals better. Results oriented deliberation is more effective at producing viable projects whereas process oriented is better at ensuring that all participants’ voices are heard. Variation suggests that decision-making in PBNYC exceeds citizens’ ability to make collective decisions with rational discourse. Rather, the structural conditions of district constitution, bureaucratic constraints, and facilitator skill impacted decision-making.

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