Thursday, September 17, 2015


In pursuit of Health Promotion, came across a brilliant book by a couple of Aussies: Promoting Health by L Talbot & G Verrinder, after seeing a YouTube video by the latter.   Unlikely to get my grubby paws on a copy easily, I was very grateful that they whetted a potential buyer's appetite by giving a random chapter for free (it's amazing what you can do with technology these days!) - I got Ch5: Community development action for social and environmental change where I was introduced to Arnstein's Ladder of Citizen Participation:

Of course their diagram was nicer -- this diagram was from Arnstein's original paper in 1971-- I thank the wonders of the internet that these things are accessible.
So in a nutshell,  the two forms of non-participation are where people are placed on committees to enlist their support (bingo! -Guyana) or people are involved in group activities to change their behaviour... but not in a nice way-- I think both smack of manipulation and neither gives the community any involvement in decision-making.  The next three steps- called tokenism - because people may be heard but there is no guarantee that their ideas will be acted upon because they have no power-- (this was the case of the IDB Landfill project behind my housing Scheme) -- also a bingo moment in illustrating Guyana to a T! unless of course .... said ideas are stolen and are repackaged as a brilliant idea by the lazy scunt carrying out the exercise!(not the IBD thing I hasten to clarify)  The higher three rungs are not applicable to Guyana, yet, sadly, in any public sphere.
So the Aussie authors go on to note that  those with little/no power are most likely to be suffering from ill health as a result of little access to, influence over structures impacting negatively on their health-- termed structural violence in my anthropology class. Then comes another bingo moment: 'If people are not skilled in articulating their needs, or believe they are unlikely to have them met, then they are not likely to express them.'  Mmm...  this could also be a huge contributory factor to Guyana's high suicide rate: notwithstanding people jumping on the bandwagon and forming numerous NGOs to hog up a bit of the action... all talkshop with no discernible positive results.

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