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The Participative Practices: between the Socialization and the Privatization of Public Policies

Darío I. Restrepo

Nobody questions the effervescence of the political practices called commonly participative, and differentiated from representative, trade union or of the direct practices characteristic of the struggles of classes. The forces that make emerge the supply and demand of participation are as diverse as they are contradictory: a new political subjectivity centered in the complaint of multiple and not hierarchized rights; the State crisis and the traditional ways of making politics by transactor parties of goods and services between population and society; the economic adjustment and, in particular, social policy and new neoliberal public administration; the decentralization processes; and the emergence of new social movements.

Likewise, the context in which the participative practices arise is contradictory as well as the uses and strategies of participation are plural and antagonistic. Practices are distinguished as technocratic, clientelistic, neoliberal, fascist, authoritarian, democratic and anarchistic. The participative practices contribute to define the new borders of the policy in which their spheres are opened, their topics are changed, their actors are multiplied and their frontiers are wider.

For some, located to the right or left ends of the political and social spectrum, politics abandons the State and it moves toward the market and the society. So it is, although the State is still an unavoidable point of reference of social relationships. The struggle for democracy is debated against the order of social and institutional dispersion that was established by contemporary capitalism and postmodern culture that feed the fragmentation of the cultural point of reference.

The old dichotomy between private or social appropriation of the fruits of labor continues dividing each alternative that is generated in the market, in politics, in public administration and in social relationships. Towards the socialization of the scenarios and public decisions certain participative practices can contribute to the redefinition of the democratic paradigm.

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