Participation can be seen as “the inclusion of a diverse range of stakeholder contributions in an on-going community development process, from identification of problem areas, to the development, implementation and management of strategic planning” (Schafft and Greenwood, 2003, p. 19).
In true democracy, there is no doubt that voices will rise against the ideas for public participation. Over the past years, certain visible feature relating to public participation and the increase and there had been a rise on the decision making process where citizens get involved. The public participation in the policy process, to truly implement the principles of democracy of the public process should aim to be rational and fair to achieve effectiveness.
Public participation relieve doubt that citizen's offerings will affect the policy process. It is of the assumption that a person who will be impinged by a decision, has the right to be associated in decision making.
“Wise democratic processes are those which utilize a community's or society's diversity to deepen shared understanding and produce outcomes of long-term benefit to the whole community or society. Not all public participation serves this purpose. Public participation can either enhance or degrade the collective intelligence and wisdom involved in democratic processes such as making collective decisions, solving social problems, and creating shared visions. The principles below offer some guidance for designing wise democratic processes”. Tom Atlee, Co-Intelligence Institute
This paper will begin by highlighting aspects of citizen participation showing the advantages and disadvantages it has on the policy process and discuss how citizen participation in the policy making process can be addressed in Jamaica.
Some Advantages of public participation
Participation in the policy process percusses “the energies and resources of individual citizens, providing a source of special insight, information, knowledge and experience, which contribute to the soundness of community solutions” (Cahn and Camper Cahn, 1968). It also ensures that the fairness of the distribution of resources to communities (Gamble and Weil, 1995). To add, the public participation in decision-making “may serve as a vehicle for empowerment” (Hardina, 2003).
Public participation in the public policy process “seems to hold a sacrosanct role in [most] political culture[s]” (Day 1997, 1) and the growing need for the incorporation of the public into decision making is not limited to only first world countries.
There are arguments approving the enhancing of citizen participation, frequently focuses on the benefits of the process itself. Nelson and Wright (1995), illustrates the participation process as a commutative apparatus for social transition. In addition, citizens' involvement in the process, is aimed to produce better decisions, and therefore produce more efficient benefits to the society (Beierle 1999; Thomas 1995)....