Participation as an end versus a means : understanding a recurring dilemma in urban upgrading
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Since the 1920s, participatory approaches to urban upgrading in developing nations have demonstrated that involving the urban poor in the physical, social, and economic development of their settlements could improve their living conditions. These housing policies and projects have since been central to urban poverty reduction. Yet, while participatory upgrading is still used on a limited scale, it has failed to become a mainstream component of urban development. This dissertation analyzes some reasons for that failure by investigating the trajectory of an urban poverty reduction program that had much potential for success in Cambodia, but whose results yet surprisingly fell short of expectations. It connects the results to a critical analysis of international experience with policies and programs for urban poverty reduction. It explores the issue in two steps: First it analyzes the historical evolution of the policies and practices of urban poverty reduction in developing nations. This highlights the apparently weak link between lessons from experience, international policy recommendations, and the programs actually implemented by governments. Second, it presents a narrative analysis of how a participatory urban poverty reduction policy originated, was implemented, and evolved in Phnom Penh from 1996 to 2004. That story provides a micro-level understanding of the shape and constraints of the evolution of policies and practices, complementing the macro-historical analysis. The findings illustrate that three main issues have prevented international and local agencies from promoting urban development assistance, using lessons learned from concrete experience over time, and thus kept them from adopting a more continuous use of proven practices.(cont.) First, a conflict of frames between agencies over the meaning of development as human-centered versus growth-led, and of the meaning of participation as an end of development vs. a means to implement centrally-decided projects at a low-cost. Second, the lack of consideration for local institutions and politics in helping them understand why and how new approaches could be absorbed, or instead resisted. And third, an apparently lack of consistency in policy directions over time, with the abandonment of proven participatory practices, and the adoption of single-sided market-based approaches to development, when history had shown that both were needed together.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2007.Some pages folded.Includes bibliographical references (p. 163-182).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.