The Effect of Participatory Budgeting on the Provisioning Process
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The hypothesis of this dissertation is that as more of us become actively engaged in deliberations concerning local economic/political issues, the happier, more tolerant, and more understanding we can become. This is a philosophical dissertation because PB’s potential benefits are researched by examining the works of relevant American social philosophers who wrote about these benefits. The research uses scientific methodology to examine social policy, as advocated by John Dewey. Foster’s theory of institutional adjustment explains what is needed for PB to realize its potential benefits. Dewey’s insight on internal deliberation explains how individuals can change to think of themselves as part of the community, to meet one of Foster’s three principles of change. The Iroquois Confederation is an example of an egalitarian democratic society with an oral constitution. The earliest settlers in New England are reviewed to learn about their Congregationalist policy, which empowered each church congregation to govern themselves. Next, Thomas Jefferson’s motivation for his ward system proposal seems to have been directed toward increasing public happiness though public participation. Then, three transcendentalist writers are analyzed. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman advocated the power of self-reflection to teach people that they have unlimited potential, the importance of using one’s voice and the importance of equality. Next is consideration of the pragmatic political thought of John Dewey and of C. Wright Mills. Dewey believed that improving the methods of public communication was a key to improving democracy, which should also help people become more tolerant. Mills, like Dewey, believed that small publics could help individuals as well as the community. The vision of participation of the Port Huron Statement inspired social movements in the 1960s. Alfred Schutz studied how people can come to understand each other through face-to-face communication. And finally, Robert Putnam’s social capital is explored to learn why people get more done together than separately. Finally, two suggestions are made for PB in NYC, to test the hypothesis of this dissertation: First, improving public deliberation within PB, and second, suggesting PB reach out to additional social justice organizations. This could help PB grow, which should help the participants as well as our political system.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Governing practices prior to the twentieth century which could be more fully incorporated into the design of the PB process -- Governing practices in the twentieth century which could be more fully incorporated into the design of the PB process -- History of PB -- Conclusions and recommendations
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)