The politics of participation

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Dwyer, Judith Margaret
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Public Health Association of Australia
© Copyright 1989 Public Health Association of Australia. Reproduced courtesy the publisher. Provided as an Open Access article through the Wiley Online Library at
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© Public Health Association of Australia
Community participation in health policy, planning and services is a central theme in the current exploration of community development methods for the promotion of health. Participation is an idea in good currency, but there is no con­sensus about how, when and where to develop participatory structures. This paper analyses the rationales advanced in favour of community participation and describes the main forms that participation has taken in Australia. It uses experience in human services generally as well as in the health area specifically. Examples from women's health are used to illustrate the underlying political value of participation for disadvantaged groups. It is argued that participation, like many other instruments of social policy, can be used towards conflicting ends, and that its value and practice should be assessed in terms of the fundamental question: 'who benefits?'
© Copyright 1989 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduced courtesy the publisher.
Dwyer, J. (1989). The politics of participation. Community Health Studies, 13(1), 59–65.