Resident Participation in an Era of Societal Self-Organisation: The Public Administrative Response in Tøyen
Participatory measures are widely acclaimed as a solution enabling public administrations to become more responsive to citizens. Research has nevertheless documented that, despite intentions, residents end up feeling manipulated rather than listened to in these processes. In this study, we performed an in-depth analysis of policy documents used for decision-making related to the area-based initiative in the district of Tøyen in Oslo, Norway. We also interviewed local politicians and representatives of residents and civil servants. Initial contracts clearly stated that residents were supposed to influence decision-making in this area-based initiative. In the analysis we categorised the different participatory measures in accordance with Arnstein’s participation ladder to see if residents were allowed to influence decision-making and if so how. The results show that they were not allowed to influence decision-making. This raises questions about the inherent dilemma of accountability in modern-day bureaucracy and the potential for responsiveness to citizens.