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Participatory Practices in Organizations

This 17-page review article, Participatory Practices in Organizations by Caroline Lee was published 2015 in Sociology Compass, an online journal aimed at reviewing state-of-the-art research for a broad audience of undergraduates, researchers, and those who want to stay posted on developments in particular fields.

The piece is a relatively quick overview and digest of a range of historic and current research on participation (not just deliberation, but much that is relevant to it) in a variety of different types of organizations. It might be useful for NCDD members seeking a quick literature review, students looking for gaps in existing research, or anyone interested in how organizational scholars view the evolution of participatory practices over the last century.

From the Abstract…

The literature on participatory practices in organizations has been less coherent and more limited to subspecialties than the literature on bureaucracy in organizations – despite a number of celebrated studies of participation in 20th century American sociology. Due to the practical nature of participatory reforms and the ambiguity of participation as a concept, attempts to review participatory knowledge have a tendency to focus on refining definitions and clarifying frameworks within subfields.

This article instead provides a broad thematic overview of three different types of research on participation in organizations, all critical to an understanding of today’s dramatic expansion of participatory practices across a variety of organizations. Classic research studied participation as dynamic and central to organizational legitimacy. Institutional design research has focused on participation as a stand-alone governance reform with promising empowerment potential, but mixed results in domains such as health care, environmental politics, and urban planning. Finally, recent research seeks to place participatory practices in the context of shifting relationships between authority, voice, and inequality in the contemporary era. The article concludes with suggestions for building on all three categories of research by exploring what is old and new in the 21st century’s changing participatory landscape.

Download the article here.

About the Author
Caroline W. Lee is Associate Professor of Sociology at Lafayette College. Her research explores the intersection of social movements, business, and democracy in American organizations. Her book Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press. Her co-edited volume with Michael McQuarrie and Edward Walker, Democratizing Inequalities: Dilemmas of the New Public Participation, was published in 2015 by NYU Press.

Resource Link: http://sites.lafayette.edu/leecw/publications/

This resource was submitted by Caroline Lee, Associate Professor of Sociology at Lafayette College, via the Add-a-Resource form.

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