Implementing participatory planning in the global South : A case study of Rio de Janeiro

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Kulturgeografiska institutionen


Urban policies are currently shaped by contemporary processes of globalisation including a market-oriented approach to urban development.

In Rio de Janeiro there is currently a high rate of urban population growth causing issues such as inequality, informal settlements and lack of access to basic services. Improved urban management is urgently needed which has become an obstacle to overcome by the GoRJ and the World Bank. Participatory methods has become widely integrated into development promoting programs with the incentive to include various key stakeholders in urban policy making.

This case study explores issues of how strategies are produced and implemented into the context of Rio de Janeiro. Furthermore, it aims to explore events caused by such strategies.

Based on a taken-for-granted premise that participatory methods and market-oriented planning leads to accelerated development, this study calls for a critical examination of how such approaches are carried out in practice. 

In communicative planning theory, there is a critical stance towards rational models used in planning systems. The findings of this paper present how neoliberal ideology has formed urban development in Rio de Janeiro and how it contains a rational rethoric. It furher presents ways of how participatory methods can reinforce oppressions and injustices, serving a top-down approach rather than the opposite.

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