Contaminated communities : actively involved citizens, technical assistance, and the cleanup process Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/c821gn602

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  • In what is called participatory democracy scholars and practitioners have been calling for the involvement of citizens in decisions that affect their lives. Citizens who emerge to participate in technically complex, decision-making processes find that their involvement is often minimized, disregarded, or neglected due to barriers such as specialized scientific knowledge, inadequate or inaccurate information, among other factors. Over the last three decades, attention has been given to technical assistance to promote more informed citizen involvement. The goal of this study was to understand the relationship between actively involved citizens and technical assistance in the cleanup process by characterizing the participation of actively involved citizens in the cleanup process, examining the effects of technical assistance, and identifying other involved parties' perspectives about this relationship. Twenty-one interviews were conducted with primary contacts (citizens, government staff, the primary responsible parties, and technical assistants) of the western region EPA-sponsored Technical Outreach Services for Communities Program, technical assistance services offered free of charge to disadvantaged communities. Four key findings resulted from this study, namely: the participation of citizens in the cleanup process is dynamic; technical assistance does not necessarily lead to citizen's ability to influence decisions; technical assistance's effects on citizens' capacity-building resources are progressive and cyclical; and technical assistants take on multiple roles. The study concludes that though technical assistance operates within a system of relationships, it can extend citizen's capacity to participate in technically complex decision-making processes in terms of facilitating communication, cooperation, knowledge, and relations between citizens and other involved parties.
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