Inspired by the ladder of citizen participation in which Arnstein (1969: 217) arranges the degrees of citizen power, there are a series of steps which are achieved after the processes of informing, but do not fully contribute yet to the delegation of power nor citizen control. These steps are summarized as part of a reactive process based on community organization, as a reaction to information, and as a form of empowerment which can be developed into diverse forms of campaigning. Such a reactive process can be called movement. Hence, the initial manoeuvre of disseminating information creates awareness and contributes to the empowerment of people with the possibility of escalating towards dialogue, the sharing of power, and the request for inclusive decision-making participation processes.
The allegation of participation as a transitive form (see Rahnema, 1992: 127) is defined by the intentions of its goals and many times used by politicians to manipulate situations that serve to their political advantage (ibid: 130). One case of participation, which could be classified as manipulation or therapy -in reference also to the initial ladder of citizen participation-, is the session held on May 11th of 2012 by Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN), candidate to Mexico’s presidency that year and currently in power for the 2012-2018 mandate. This public meeting was held with the students of the Universidad Iberoamericana “a private university where he expected to find support from the children of Mexico’s privileged citizens” (see: yosoy132.wordpress.com). Instead, the public raised questions about the violence occurred in San Salvador Atenco in 2006, in his turn as governor of the State of Mexico. The students manifested their nonconformity when EPN justified the repression of civilians with force and the movement “I am 132” evolved as a reaction to media coverage which reported falsely about the protests that arouse on May 11th in the university, claiming that these were not the students but a staged disruption from the political opposition (ibid). In relation to the control of the media and manipulation of public opinion, José Eduardo Zaragosa in the interview (full version below) states:
“We don’t want a candidate created by the TV stations. We want a real democracy. One where the media itself is democratized and tells us the truth.”
Click here for PRI’s The World full report (June 11, 2012).
Image source: BBC News In pictures.