Participatory Budgeting as if Emancipation Mattered*

Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Ernesto Ganuza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Participatory Budgeting has by now been widely discussed, often celebrated, and is now instituted in at least 1,500 cities worldwide. Some of its central features-its structure of open meetings, its yearly cycle, and its combination of deliberation and representation-are by now well known. In this article, however, we critically reflect on its global travel and argue for more careful consideration of some of its less well-known features, namely the coupling of the budgeting meetings with the exercise of power. We disaggregate PB into its communicative and empowerment dimensions and argue that its empowerment dimensions have usually not been part of its global expansion-and this is cause for concern from the point of view of emancipation. We thus discuss the specific institutional reforms associated with empowerment in the original version as well as its analytic dimensions. We also address some of the specific dangers of a communication-only version of PB as well as some suggestions for reintroducing empowerment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-50
Number of pages22
JournalPolitics and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Participatory Budgeting
  • Real Utopias
  • citizen participation
  • deliberation
  • political sociology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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