Participation for Economic Advancement

Over the years, a great deal of work has been done on how to build participation and increase the voice of disenfranchised groups in political and social processes that affect their lives. Civil society and public action, with the support of engaged research, have opened up spaces for people to have a say in social and political policies at many levels. However, economic processes have only rarely been the focus of such efforts.

Economic power can liberate, but it can also oppress and disenfranchise as much as other forms of power. Economic policy-making generally still takes place behind closed doors, in processes that are heavily technocratic.  Business decision-making is in the hands of asset owners (shareholders, investors, entrepreneurs).  Orthodox economics emphasises rational self-interest over collective action towards shared well-being. Opening up and creating spaces for the economically disenfranchised to have a voice and to participate in decisions that affect them remains a key challenge. The Open Society Foundations Economic Advancement Programme is working with researchers in the Business Markets and States and Participation research teams at the Institute of Development Studies to try and address this challenge.

The Key Issues Guides and documents included in this collection are designed to present an overview of participation in economic advancement: introducing key concepts (What is Participation?); providing an overview of building participation within economic programmes - at the grantee/investee and at the internal funder levels (Participation for Economic Advancement Programming) and presenting examples of different models and processes in the economic sphere, and how these can enable meaningful participation (Mapping Participation in Economic Advancement).  It is recommended that those new to the field of participation in economic advancement read the overview guide before the other two.

Image credit: Favéla Santa Marta, Painting of life in the favéla | dany13 | Flickr | CC BY 2.0 

This Key Issues Guide is sponsored by the Economic Advancement Program of the Open Society Foundations. The Economic Advancement Program was launched in 2016 to work at the nexus of economic development and social justice by encouraging economic transformation that increases material opportunity in ways that promote open and prosperous societies.

In this collection


Showing 41-46 of 46 results

  • Mentoring three ISIF-funded projects in evaluation and research communication

    International Development Research Centre, 2016
    This series of case studies emerged from an action-research project entitled Developing Evaluation and Communication Capacity in Information Society Research (DECI-2). The predecessor DECI-1 project focused only on evaluation mentoring in Asia.The subsequent DECI-2 project collaborated with research networks and grantees supported by International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) Information & Networks Program between July 2012 and 2017. This particular case summarizes work with the ISIF grants program based at APNIC in Brisbane, Australia....
  • Participatory philanthropy

    Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of New Zealand, 2015
    Current philanthropic practices often funnel power into the hands of a few individuals in positions of power, whose world views and cultural ideologies take precedence in all aspects of philanthropic endeavour. There are numerous ways to address these philanthropic problems, including practical changes to legal structures, adaptation of processes, changes to how, who and what we fund and changes to the culture and values of the philanthropic sector.  This paper aims to look at only one of these methods of change - participatory philanthropy....
  • Monitoring and evaluations strategy brief

    The WorldFish Center, 2014
    This brief provides an overview of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system of the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) and describes how the M&E system is designed to support the program to achieve its goals. The AAS program aims to improve the lives of 22 million people dependent upon aquatic agricultural systems by 2024 through research in development....
  • Participatory action research in the CGIAR research program on aquatic agricultural systems

    The WorldFish Center, 2013
    The CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) aimed to improve the lives of 15 million poor and vulnerable people who depend upon diverse livelihood strategies in aquatic agricultural systems Taking a Research in Development (RinD) approach, this program represents a break from “business as usual” for the CGIAR. The program aimed to build capacity to innovate and to foster more resilient communities and aquatic agricultural systems....
  • Participatory grantmaking: Has its time come?

    Ford Foundation, 2017
    The paper surveys a number of frameworks that have been developed for incorporating participation into decision-making processes, both inside and outside philanthropy. More clarity about the what, why, and how of participatory grantmaking will help create a baseline for action and experimentation that can be tweaked by the field of philanthropy over time. As awareness of the concept grows, so will understanding and, ultimately, acceptance of participatory grantmaking as an essential component of philanthropic practice. This paper is an effort to begin to develop more clarity on the topic....
  • Introduction: Exploring power for change

    Institute of Development Studies UK, 2006
    Concepts and methods of ‘participation’ are used increasingly throughout the world in shaping policy and in delivering services. These participatory approaches throw new light on the complex interactions within and between society and state institutions at local, national and global levels. Participatory approaches lead to questions about how different kinds of knowledge and values shape the rules of the game and policy choices.What are the societal and political processes through which power operates that inform whose voice is heard and whose is excluded?...


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