Citizen Participation in Transitional Society: An Evolution of Participatory Planning in Serbia

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Arnstein’s seminal article influenced both the scholars and practitioners to explore the ways of citizen engagement against the public administration and politicians. To illustrate this, I present the case study of Serbia through four phases of its planning history. After the Second World War, the topdown spatial planning for social good was controlled by the elite multidisciplinary technocratic decisions. Citizens were just informed about the possibilities for public insight and debate. The state decentralization of the1970s, influenced the shift of planning from the state focused allocation to the community responsive planning, based on delegated power of the civil sector in partnership with representatives of local politics. In the 1990s, when and development process was almost exclusively driven by private investment greenlighted by the national government, the citizen participation was not even manipulated – it did not exist, neither in planning legislation, nor in planning practice. Today, Serbia faces the privatization of state land and resources, while experts try to find their own place in an arena of manifold interests, making the citizens able to exercise only ‘de jure’ public consultation. The need for substantial citizens involvement is indisputable, however, the step towards its implementation follows the democratic development of Serbia.
Planning for Transition – book of proceedings 31; 2
Sherry Arnstein, public engagement, transitional society, Serbia
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