This article is based on a unique survey of 229 civil society organisations that work with or for people in low-middle class, working class and poor neighbourhoods to solve individual and collective problems and/or to provide some degree of representation vis-à-vis government in São Paulo, Brazil (municipality, population 10 million). The survey sought to identify factors that increase the propensity of such actors to engage with policy-making participatory institutions. It used modified snowball sampling to meet the challenges posed by the diverse and dispersed nature of civil society actors. It generated a representative sample of civil society actors that are more active and hence, most likely to enter and use the three types of participatory policy-making institutions in São Paulo: the participatory budget, deliberative policy councils and an aggregate type of all forms of participation in policy-making institutions.
The findings support the claims that, in the case of São Paulo, there are powerful institutional effects on the participation of civil society organisations. The best predictor of whether an organisation participates, in any of the three types of spaces, is the presence of relations to traditional institutional actors: the Workers' Party or the State, and the design of the institutions. The organisational form actors take, in terms of a typology of organisations developed in the article, alsohas a significant impact on who participates.What we call advocacy nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) are less likely to participate than community associations and coordinators. In contrast, the wealth of an organisation does not influence participation, nor do the issue-areas in which an actor works, nor how it works.
A. Acharya, A. G. Lavalle and P. Houtzager. Civil Society Representation in the Participatory Budget and Deliberative Councils of São Paulo, Brazil. IDS Bulletin (2004) 35 (2) 40-48. [DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-5436.2004.tb00120.x]