Limits to a Consensus-based Model of Involvement
Wills, Caitlin M.
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The need to generate authentic public involvement is one of the most pressing issues in environmental management. For years, the command and control approach relied on indirect participation methods such as public hearings and comment periods. Continually, these methods proved ineffective and fostered the frustration and distrust they were trying to dispel. Realizing that environmental issues were more complex, recent attempts for more collaborative and flexible approaches to decision making at all levels of government have increased experimentation with direct forms of involvement. Based on assumptions of equality, the common good and consensus decision- making, one such effort is the consensus-based stakeholder approach. In this project, I demonstrate that in practice consensus-based efforts demonstrate problems of exclusion and inequality identified by critics of this ideal form of public argument leading to frustration and distrust.