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participatory democracy

Participatory democracy is a broadly inclusive term for many kinds of consultative decision making in a democracy. Its variants include:

Participatory methods are also used in workplace democracy.

The term grassroots democracy is sometimes employed to mean a specifically local decision making? system such as a town hall?, in which people living near each other have more power to resist decisions made by outside agencies and institutions.

Both the participatory and grassroots approaches usually emphasize the need for transparency and accountability amongst elected officials. Participatory democracy usually functions on the opt-in principle. It is also sometimes invoked as a means to resist any attempt to permit proxy? or require representatives to decision making bodies or processes.

Accordingly, some means of balancing these, such as online deliberation in advance of a meeting (so that those concerned can see and comment on what is to be decided, and know for sure that this is the wiki meeting that will be respected in practice), is often proposed. This can frame issues to make more efficient use of live meeting? time at for instance an Annual General Meeting?, and to permit ultimate ratification via a mail-in ballot? of the membership as a whole.

The challenges of online access can by and large be dealt with by requiring participants with high skills to assist those with low skills in the online arena, and requiring live meetings to ratify the positions and arguments as being actually reflective of membership.

In The Unconscious Civilization by John Ralston Saul, Saul sees the virtue of uncertainty and the acceptance of "psychic discomfort" as being the essential basic ingredients for truly participatory systems of government, along with pre-requisites of imaginative rationality itself:
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"Common sense, creativity?.
ethics, intuition?, memory? and reason?. These can be exploited individually as a justification for ideology; or imprisoned in the limbo of abstract concepts. Or they can be applied together, in some sort of equilibrium, as the filters of public action."

"The virtue of uncertainty is not a comfortable idea, but then a citizen-based democracy is built upon participation, which is the very expression of permanent discomfort. The corporatist system depends on the citizen's desire for inner comfort. Equilibrium is dependent upon our recognition of reality, which is the acceptance of permanent psychic discomfort. And the acceptance of psychic discomfort is the acceptance of consciousness."


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