Articles | Volume 64, issue 4
31 Dec 2009
 | 31 Dec 2009

Urban projects, sustainable development and participatory democracy : opportunities and limitations : introduction to the special issue

J. Racine

Abstract. This special issue introduces different texts on urban participatory democracy, a topic that has recently gained much momentum. The issue allows a transversal, interdisciplinary, and international comparison of a series of experiments from France, Switzerland, Italy, Scotland and Chile. The examples show sustainable development to be as much an element of the valorization of public spaces as of major architectural and urban planning projects. The introduction focuses on a critical description of ongoing projects in the city of Lausanne which bear testimony to the effect citizen participation in urban project development can have in defining new stakes, a new style of public action and a way of governing. This process of participation can lead to a process of cooperative construction of the environment. The article closes with an examination of the ambiguities and flaws inherent in participatory democracy.