The Perils of Participation: The Effect of Participation Messages on Citizens’ Policy Support

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - public consultation, place - north america, policy - equity, policy - social exclusion


public transit policy, consultation, equity


While scholars have found several benefits to citizens, government, and society resulting from participatory policy processes, other research suggests that citizens are apathetic and uninterested in participating in policy-making. Also, in some cases, knowing that similar others participated in making a decision can decrease support for the result. The current research attempts to determine whether knowledge that similar citizens participated in public transportation policymaking or elites designed a transit policy affects support for the policy as well as general support for the policy process. Results from a survey experiment suggest that who participates matters. Citizens do not want “people like them” developing public transportation policies. These findings pose implications for the promotion of participatory processes.


Permission to publish the abstract and link to the article has been given by Journal of Public Transportation, copyright remains with them.