Resident Participation in an Era of Societal Self-Organisation: The Public Administrative Response in Tøyen

Kristin Reichborn-Kjennerud, Espen Ophaug


Participatory measures are widely acclaimed as a solution for public administrations to become more responsive to citizens. Research has nevertheless documented that despite of intentions residents end up feeling manipulated rather than listened to in these processes. In this study we did an in depth documentary analysis of policydocuments used for decisionmaking related to the Areabased initiative in the district of Tøyen in Oslo, Norway. We also interviewed politicians, representatives of the residents and civil servants. Initial contracts for this areabased initiative clearly stated that residents were supposed to influence decisionmaking in this areabased initiative. In the analysis we categorized the different participatory measures according to Arnsteins participation ladder to see if residents were allowed to influence decisionmaking and how. Results show that they were not allowed to influence decisionmaking. This raises questions about the inherent dilemma of accountability in modern day bureaucracy and their potential for responsiveness to citizens.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413