Arrangements for direct citizen participation in policymaking are being hailed as ways of democratising the state and giving poor people more access to decision-making fora. Whether that happens depends in part on who participates. This paper explores the factors that influence the propensity of collective civil society actors to participate in a variety of participatory spaces in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. A key finding is that collective actors with links to the state and to political parties are most likely to participate. Furthermore, the institutional design of participatory policy-making spaces exercises strong influence on who participates; and this also varies according to the type of civil society actor. Finally, there is no evidence that wealth of collective actors influences participation.
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Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, 2 pp.