Article Information

INFORMAL PRACTICES OF THE PUBLIC HEARING PARTICIPANTS (THE CASE OF SAINT PETERSBURG)

Аnna Shatalova a

Elena Tykanova b (E-mail: elenatykanova@gmail.com)

aIndependent researcher, St. Petersburg, Russia

bThe Sociological Institute of the RAS — Branch of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SI RAS — FCTAS RAS), St. Petersburg, Russia

Citation: Shatalova A., Tykanova E. (2018) Neformal'nyye praktiki uchastnikov publichnykh slushaniy (sluchay Sankt-Peterburga) [Informal practices of the public hearing participants (the case of Saint Petersburg)]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 21(4): 63–84 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2018.21.4.3 

Abstract. The article is devoted to the study of discursive representations of interest groups’ informal practices during the preparation and conduct of public hearings. The authors analyze the cases of public hearings in St. Petersburg and the range their participants’ opinions. The empirical base of the study consists of a series of semi-structured interviews with citizens, their lobbyists and experts (N = 13), as well as materials of nonparticipant observations at the hearings “On the Amendments to the Law of St. Petersburg” and “On the Master Plan of St. Petersburg”. Theoretical background for the study are the neo-institutional theory of D. North and N. Fligstein, as well as the "ladder of citizen participation" Sh. Arnstein. The authors conclude that the context of interaction between participants during public hearings might take the form of creating the appearance of taking into account the proposals of the public to the cases of real taking into account the opinions of citizens. Meanwhile, at all levels of interaction, advocacy groups, depending on access to power, resort to a specific repertoire of informal practices in order to obtain the desired benefits. Thus, strong advocacy groups can appeal to the invitation of loyal participants and so-called “dummies”; minimization of public hearings information; providing information to the best advantage; shifting responsibility for the decision to external instances and implementing a negligent workflow. While citizens and their lobbyists undertake a survey of tenants for checking the authenticity of attendance, inform the public on the subject of upcoming public hearings; clarify the active public’ membership and agenda. All parties can resort to the spatial tactics, as well as use of force.

Keywords: city, civic participation, public hearings, informal practices, advocacy groups.

 

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