Inclusivity, transparency and policy effects – procedural justice through participation?

In a presentation at the annual congress of AESOP (Assosiation of European Schools of Planning) in 2023, Katharina Holec, Laura Mark and Tobias Escher presented results from a consultative participation procedure. Key question was whether the procedure could contribute to procedural justice.

Summary

Consultative participation is a frequently used tool to correct traditional inequalities in planning. It is often used to negotiate conflicts relevant to everyday life. Citizens are encouraged to express their interests and ideas. In addition, local administrations expect an increase in legitimacy beliefs among citizens through including them into processes. Procedural justice can be seen as an important aspect of the desired increase in acceptance. The underrepresentation of certain socio-economic groups in the input of consultative participation is one of the main challenges for procedural justice.

Our example is one of the case studies, which we have accompanied scientifically over the last years. Using a mixed methods we investigate the contribution that the procedure makes to procedural justice. We conceptualize this describing the relevance of the aspects inclusivity, transparency and policy effects of a consultative procedure.

Although inclusivity was the declared goal of the organizers it is hardly achieved in the input of the process – that is, in the question of who participates. Things look somewhat more positive when observing the throughput. Discussions were well organized and were also perceived positively by citizens. If we look at the evaluation of the transparency of the process itself, i.e. the throughput, the participants rated it positively. There are limitations in the evaluation of the transparency of the result and the communication after the process. A policy effect exists and is primarily perceived by the participants. However, the policy effect is limited to non-essential issues of the process.

Key findings

  • While the consultation process was organized aiming at an overrepresentation of specific marginalized groups, it fails to include lower educated and non-male individuals. The assessment of throughput inclusivity is more positive.
  • The consultation process was carried out with timely publication of the results of the individual procedural steps and is also perceived as transparent overall with few differences between different social groups. People with disabilities are somewhat more critical. The assessment of the transparency of the results is somewhat more negative.
  • Effects on political decision-making can be found in the fact that the process strengthened and supported the progressive ideas of the administration. Influences of participation existed but were mainly relevant for specific issues, such as the location of bike paths or bus stops not a general direction.
  • These effects are more strongly perceived by participants.

Mobility transition in practical terms: Perspectives of the SÖF junior research groups with a focus on mobility

On 25 & 26 October the three SÖF junior research groups with a focus on mobility met in Hannover to exchange insight from their current research, identify common themes and discuss possible future opportunities for collaboration.

There is more information available in German.

The Structure and Antecedents of Citizens’ Perceptions of Local Democracy: Findings from a Survey in Different German Cities in 2021

Abstract

Legitimacy is the voluntary recognition of political authority, which plays an important role in the stability and governance of political systems. At the system level, it is strongly conditioned by individual legitimacy attitudes at the micro level. The goal of our presentation is to illustrate and understand

  • How different objects of political support are constructed and interrelated (trust, satisfaction, and legitimacy beliefs)?
  • How strongly local and national political attitudes toward objects influence each other?
  • What individual factors ultimately influence local and national legitimacy beliefs?

To measure these relationships, we used survey data collected in the project to first operationalize the constructs of satisfaction with authority, trust in institutions, and legitimacy attitudes at the local and national levels. Methodologically, we use a confirmatory factor analysis and OLS regression.

Key Findings

  • Higher satisfaction with local than with national authorities, and greater trust in local than in national institutions, while mean differences in legitimacy attitudes vary
  • Strong correlations between the concepts of trust and satisfaction and legitimacy beliefs
  • Strong correlations between local and national levels for trust, satisfaction, and legitimacy beliefs
  • Hardly any systematic influences by individual factors on legitimacy beliefs when controlling for satisfaction and trust as influences on legitimacy

Socio-spatial justice through public participation?

In this presentation at the AESOP (Assosiation of European Schools of Planning) annual Congress in 2022, Laura Mark, Katharina Huseljić and Tobias Escher introduced a framework of distributive socio-spatial justice and the way consultation procedures can contribute, before evaluating the case study Elbchaussee in Hamburg regarding socio-spatial justice, using qualitative and quantitative results. 

Abstract

Our current transport system exhibits significant socio-spatial injustices as it has both major negative environmental effects and structurally disadvantages certain socio-economic groups. Planning processes increasingly include elements of public participation, often linked to the hope of better understanding and integrating different mobility needs into the planning process. However, so far there is little knowledge on whether public participation results indeed in more socio-spatial justice.

To approach this question, we focus on socio-spatial justice as distributive justice and investigate how well consultative planning procedures do actually lead to measures that both contribute to sustainability (i.e. reduce or redistribute negative external effects) and cater for the needs of disadvantaged groups (e.g. those with low income or education, women and disabled people). To this end, we have investigated in detail the case study of the reconstruction of the Elbchaussee, a representative main road of citywide importance in the district of Altona in Hamburg, Germany. We are drawing on both qualitative and quantitative data including expert interviews and public surveys.  

We first show that the process did result in planning measures that contribute slightly to ecological sustainability. Second, in particular through improving the situation for pedestrians and cyclists as well as the quality of stay, the measures should contribute to more justice for some groups but this is recognized only by non-male groups. Beyond this there are no effects for people with low income, low education, those with mobility restrictions or with particular mobility needs often associated with these groups. Overall, we conclude that the consultative planning process provides only a small contribution to socio-spatial justice and we discuss potential explanations.

Key Findings

  • The consultative planning process as a whole resulted in measures that contribute slightly to socio-spatial justice, since they support the transition to more sustainable mobility and will benefit some disadvantages groups, though both to a limited degree.
  • We find that the consultation procedure had no significant influence on the policy. In terms of socio-spatial justice, no positive effects can be traced back to the consultation procedure. Notably, those that participated in the consultation did indeed report less satisfaction with the measures.
  • We trace those limited contributions back to some general features of consultation and the current planning system, but also find that in the case study the scope of possible influence was very limited due to external restrictions and power imbalances.

Publication

We are working on a publication for a peer-reviewed journal. The publication will be linked here as soon as it is published.

New working group on mobility, accessibility and social inclusion at the ARL – Academy for Territorial Development in the Leibniz Association

We are pleased that Laura Mark is part of the aforementioned working group and can discuss our research with colleagues. Practitioners and researchers meet regularly in the working group to discuss various topics related to mobility and social inclusion. The working group started in the middle of 2021 and the content-related work is now taking more and more shape: Areas of interface with our research include the question of procedural justice in planning processes for the mobility transition – who participates and whose voices are heard? How should planning and participation processes for a sustainable mobility transition be designed in the future in order to include everyone? Here we will report on the further work and publications and events that develop within the context of this working group!

New working group on mobility, accessibility and social participation at the ARL – Academy for Spatial Development in the Leibniz Association

We are pleased to have Laura Mark participating in the mentioned working group to contribute to discussions with colleagues about our research. Practitioners and academics meet regularly in the working group to work on various topics related to mobility and social participation. The working group was started in mid-2021 and the substantive work is gradually taking shape: Intersections with our research include the question of procedural justice in planning procedures for the mobility transition – who participates and whose voices are heard? How should planning and participation processes be designed in the future for a sustainable mobility transition that includes everyone? We will report on the ongoing work, publications and events that emerge within the framework of this working group!

Kick-Off Conference of Junior Research Groups in Bonn

On 9 & 10 March 2020 the kick-off conference of all junior research groups took place that are funded by the BMBF programme on Research for Sustainable Development (FONA). At the moment there are about 20 junior research group that receive funding and that reported during the two-day conference.

As part of the latest funding round of 2019 we presented our group in the form of a presentation and a poster.

For an overview of all junior research group see the BMBF website.

Urban Change Maker Group – Workshop in Berlin

Evolving our ideas in exchange with the research community in sustainable transport is essential for us – to view challenges from a new angle, get some inspiration and possibly identify some synergies. That´s why we are part of the Urban Change Maker group, a diverse group of PhD and Post-Doc researchers from all over the world that work on issues of sustainable transformation in cities. Focus is on research that enables a sustainable transition in practice, mainly on governance and stakeholder constellations as well as social justice.

The research group is affiliated with the Wuppertal Institute and the TU Berlin as well as various other research institutions and universities.

On March 6th, we met for a creative workshop to identify possible synergies and joint research topics. The workshop started with the researchers introducing their research interests, already starting discussions on possible synergies. This was further continued and concrete paper ideas were discussed, as well as possible topics for Master´s thesis at the affiliated universities.

For our research group, a possible synergy could be comparing our German cases with similar cases of public participation in one of the partner cities and elaborate differences and similarities. The initiated exchange will continue over the following years, in the form of regular workshops and a yearly summer school for the whole group, and more intense exchange for the work on joint research and paper topics. This exchange will help us to discuss and place the topic in a broader thematic and geographical context.

Conference Future City 2019

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2019, the Conference Future City 2019 of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research took place in Münster. The CIMT group – represented by Laura Mark and Katharina Huseljić – presented itself there with a poster.

The main goal of our group was to network with science and practice in order to facilitate future cooperation in the evaluation of participation procedures. In addition, there was a strong exchange with former and currently funded projects from social-ecological research. Among other things, the focus was on inter- and transdisciplinary work in junior research groups.

Additionally, there was room for disciplinary interaction and networking and workshops deepening knowledge in the differing research attempts. There was the opportunity to attend various workshops with and without disciplinary focuses. The members of the junior research group attended events on working with data at local municipality level and on the possibility of bottom up climate protection.