Democratizing the Administrative State: Connecting Neighborhood Councils and City Agencies

Authors

  • Pradeep Chandra Kathi,

    1. Doctoral candidate in public administration at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California. He holds a master's degree in management from the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. He is presently a principal investigator and lead research assistant on the Collaborative Learning Project, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which aims to connect city agencies and neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. E-mail: kathi@usc.edu.
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  • Terry L. Cooper

    1. Maria B. Crutcher Professor in Citizenship and Democratic Values in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California. His research centers on citizen participation and ethics in government. Currently, he is the director of USC's Civic Engagement Initiative and a principal investigator in the USC Neighborhood Participation Project, which conducts research on the role of neighborhood councils in the governance of the City of Los Angeles. E-mail: tlcooper@usc.edu.
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Abstract

Citizen participation in government decision making, especially at the local level, has received heightened attention with regard to its promise for improved governance. The overarching administrative ethos of the administrative state creates barriers to citizen participation in governance. Developing and nurturing citizen participation in the presence of the administrative state is a significant challenge. Drawing on the literary tradition of public engagement and learning, this article models a developmental strategy of participation that offers one avenue for achieving meaningful partnerships between city agencies and neighborhood councils in a metropolitan environment. We present a model of citizen participation that brings neighborhood councils and city agencies together in a collaborative partnership. This model is based on the literature on citizen participation, which focuses on the significance of interactive processes in building trust among participants and creating mutual understanding and agreement.

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