Published 12 December 2014
From the World Bank to the Occupy Movement, support for greater citizen participation in social policy decisions has become ubiquitous. This paper argues that existing typologies of participation are problematic in that they do not recognise the plurality of competing participatory logics that explain this rise in support for participation from groups with such divergent world views. Participatory practice is constructed in multiple ways, and each construction can only be understood with reference to the normative conception of societal organisation it encompasses. However, existing typologies take one of two approaches: either they assume one particular normative bias and categorise participatory forms as accordingly legitimate or illegitimate (for instance, Arnstein’s ladder), or they categorise by institutional design features without reference to the broader social and political ideology that informs the use of these designs. This paper draws on Grid-Group Cultural Theory to outline an alternative approach. Participatory practice is categorised along two intersecting dimensions: sociality, the extent to which participation is solidaristic or agonistic, and negotiability, the extent to which participatory spaces are prescribed or negotiated. From these dimensions four archetypes of participation are derived, each with its own participatory logic, conception of the participant, preferred institutional forms, and links to broader social and political philosophies.