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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultivating citizenship and participation through culture : the use of participatory planning methods for community based watershed management in Santo Andre, Brazil Saad, Layla

Abstract

Adopting a participatory planning approach to community development has increasingly been placed on the agenda of governments, international development agencies and various non-governmental organisations. The interactive participation component of participatory planning processes can provide a pedagogical forum of informal education and knowledge sharing amongst local citizens and planners. The mutual social learning that is produced creates new meaning that contains both planner and citizen perspectives and knowledge. The presence and participation of citizens in participatory project activities can strengthen and/or establish notions of citizenship that can subsequently stimulate future community activism and mobilisation. This thesis will illustrate how culture, as both a creative practice and a way of life, provides a valuable instrument for community participation. The role of culture as a participatory tool is analysed for its potential in the construction of active citizenship, and as a method that facilitates the expression of local knowledge. Since putting the ideals of participation into practice is difficult, the specific purpose of this thesis is to identify and document some of the opportunities and constraints to providing creative channels of participation. This study is situated in the Municipality of Santo Andre, Brazil, where a Community Based Watershed Management (CBWM) project is currently unfolding. A series of key informant interviews and participant observation provided insight on the Brazilians' perspective of the objectives of participation, the role that culture plays in participatory planning and the several opportunities and constraints to adopting innovative forms of participation. The resulting analysis reveals issues found at the community, community/municipal and municipal (institutional) levels where a combination of distinct perceptions of participation, approaches to culture, democratisation of planning information, influences of historical and contemporary socio-political structures, technocratic practices, multi-disciplinarity, and attitudes regarding active citizenship and municipal co-management, both facilitate and complicate conditions for innovative participatory planning.

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