By William Boyce
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Extra resources for A Seat at the Table: Persons with Disabilities and Policy Making
However, these analyses of collective behaviour gave little explanation for the participation of non-aggrieved persons (Olson 1968) or the development of community organizations in the social movement (McCarthy and Zald 1987). Two social movement theories apply particularly to citizen participation in disability policy making: resource mobilization theory and new social movement theory. Resource mobilization theory proposes an economic analogy to explore the ability of specific social movements to acquire and use monetary and labour resources to facilitate organizational objectives (McCarthy and Zald 1987).
The community is seen, not as a cohesive whole with mutual interests, but rather as a constellation 28 A Seat at the Table of distinct advantaged and disadvantaged groups. This definition of participation satisfies Pateman's general criteria, addresses both the organizational and empowerment purposes of participation, uses a structural perspective, and is applicable to many disadvantaged groups within communities. With these conceptual and methodological issues in mind, we propose the following definition of the participation of citizens with disabilities in policy making: Citizen participation is the organization of activities by groups of persons with disabilities who are at a structural disadvantage, in conjunction with able-bodied persons who are not, to increase control over the means to influence the policy environment and, in doing so, to improve their quality of life.
These theories also offer a framework for analysing the legitimation of citizen groups in decision making. In sum, political economy theories provide an important perspective on the motivations of the state and may explain the resources provided to citizen participation in policy making, and the state's expectations of it. They also provide a balance to theories of community organization, social movements, and interest groups by focusing on socio-political conditions. A C R I T I Q U E OF C I T I Z E N P A R T I C I P A T I O N Numerous contradictions have been noted in regard to citizen participation (Tesh 1988).