The term “participation” denotes a voluntary process by which people, including those who are disadvantaged (due to age, poverty, gender, ethnicity or education) can influence or control the decision-making processes affecting them through co-determination.

The act or process of participation (or stake/involvement) means the state of being connected to a larger whole and the process of participation by which individuals, groups, partners, governments, owners and organizations contribute to a project or program of activities have the opportunity to actively participate.

What is Participation or Involvement?

Participation is an important core value in open and democratic cultures and is increasingly recognized as a ‘right’ in global human resources treaties. Participation prevails against oppression and prejudice, particularly among the poorest and most marginalized individuals.

What does participation mean now? Everyone would need to be willing and able to participate in a decision-making process and to express themselves in a decision that affects them in order for meaningful participation to be possible. This involvement in decision-making processes can be difficult in situations where they are intimidated, lack the expertise or language to understand and contribute, or feel they have no right to participate.

Furthermore, practical considerations often lead to representatives of a particular group of decision-makers participating and controlling implementation rather than each individual interacting directly, with the risk of certain interests being ignored or processes being hijacked by elites or particular groups.

The dynamics of participation in economic progress and its affairs are affected by who creates the space for participation and who defines the decision-making scope and processes. Participation is used in different ways by different actors and in different contexts.

The power relations between the various individuals and organizations involved in these processes also have a major impact on participation and involvement in economic development, so knowledge of the power relations is crucial to enable meaningful engagement.

forms of participation

social participation

Social participation is the social participation of the individual and includes involvement in formal volunteer organizations (e.g. volunteering in a charity shop or as a trustee), informal or grassroots community groups (e.g. tenants and residents association or sports club) and formal and informal mutual support and self-help (e.g. peer support group or community garden group).

Social participation does not occur without social relationships and involves actions in which an individual shares resources with others.

Depending on the resources shared, there are three types of social participation:

1. Collective social participation

It is defined as activities shared by the members of a group, where time is the primary source of sharing and the purpose is directly related to the group itself, e.g. B. Group travel. Productive social participation involves providing services, products, or specific benefits to others. In this type of participation, in addition to time, certain skills and competencies are shared, e.g. B. through volunteer work, money or the care of another person.

2. Political social participation

In political social participation, decisions are made about social groups and the allocation of resources. These decisions are services provided by individuals or groups such as political parties in collective settings, sharing resources such as knowledge and social skills in addition to time and specific skills.

3. Social participation of the community

Social participation in the community seems to be more important among the three types of social participation for elder health promotion

public participation

Individual participation and co-determination in the numerous structures and organizations of democracy, such as e.g. B. Voting (Switzerland on a per canton basis), contacting a political representative, campaigning and lobbying, and participating in consultations and demonstrations.

Individual participation

Individual actions and decisions that represent the type of society in which the individual wishes to live, e.g. B. buying fair trade or eco-friendly products, boycotting products from certain countries, recycling, participating in petitions, charitable donations and informal helpful gestures (e.g. visiting an elderly neighbor).

Active participation

Active participation is a way of working that supports the right of individuals to participate as independently as possible in the activities and relationships of daily life. The individual is an active partner in their own care or support, rather than being passive. The individual is the expert who knows best what life is like for them and the associate listens to them and takes this into account at all times. For example, if there is a birthday or a special occasion coming up, ask the person if and how they would like to celebrate, rather than guessing or telling others about the occasion without their consent. Taking control of caregiving helps individuals strengthen their identity and self-esteem.

They should also keep equality and diversity in mind and give each individual an equal opportunity to achieve their goals, value their differences and find solutions that work for them.

Key features of person-centred work and participation

Every person is valued. It is placed at the center of practice and enabled to:

  • make independent and informed decisions about their lives;
  • to express their views and opinions and to be listened to when they express them;
  • To be in control of the way services are delivered to them, meaning they are in control of how, where and when their needs are met and who helps them with the support they need;
  • maximize their independence, continue to use and build on existing skills to regain or develop a higher level of independence when they are able to do so;
  • are supported and not hindered in maintaining a full, active and independent life in their own community;
  • to be fully involved in the assessment of their own needs and in the design of their support plans;
  • be given full control over the risks they are willing to take and how these should be assessed and managed, and who should and should not be present when their needs are assessed and discussed;
  • be viewed as individuals with strengths, abilities and potential that are recognized and used as a starting point for meeting their needs, rather than as a starting point for their weaknesses and inadequacies;
  • to determine for themselves what they consider to be respect for their rights, privacy and dignity, rather than accepting others’ definition of it
  • not to be patronized by those who support you;
  • to be seen as a whole person, entitled to quality of life and not just basic needs;
  • being seen as a person first and not being labeled or stereotyped as well
  • be addressed in the way they choose, not how others do it.

Characteristics qualities of participation

Participation shares some common characteristics


Participation can be encouraged, supported and made more attractive, but at its core it is about the freedom to participate (or not) without coercion and one participates because they want to.


People are motivated to act for a variety of reasons, and their involvement can be limited in time and scope, but all involvement requires some form of action. Even a relatively harmless form of engagement, like signing an online petition, requires an opinion and requires work and effort.

collective or connected

Being a participant means being a part of something. Even if it is an individual activity, such as For example, when making a donation to charity or buying fair trade food, there is a sense of community purpose and the action itself has a collective impact or purpose.


Everyone wants to achieve something meaningful for themselves, and every participatory action has consequences or should have consequences. Participation affects at least the individual participant; in the best case, it also contributes to changing the environment; and occasionally she achieves both.

The perception of participation is contradictory.

People interpret their own involvement and that of others in different ways. These beliefs often affect how and why they decide to get involved. For example, many respondents to studies indicated that they do not consider themselves political and do not wish to be identified with such an activity. The stereotypes of the participants were also evident: the respondents indicated that they did not like to be perceived or want to be perceived as “do-gooders”: the impressions that the participants had of themselves, of other participants and of the different forms of participatory activities corresponded not always reality. For example, reluctance to be associated with political action was often at odds with the reality of engagement in this area: the vast majority of respondents went to vote, and many had contacted their local MPs or been involved in some form of campaigning . Furthermore, while some respondents alluded to the negative stereotype of the “do-gooder,” they were so active that they could easily have been portrayed in that light themselves.

Other examples of participation: Participation has an impact on people and places, eg in children and young people and in the environmental area

There are numerous examples of the impact of engagement, ranging from the individuals involved to broader societal and global impacts. Individual impacts were both instrumental (e.g., developing new skills and networks) and transformative (e.g., greater confidence, satisfaction, purpose, and self-esteem). There are moving accounts of how participants’ actions impacted other people and places. This often happened by bringing about or preventing a change in the local environment, e.g. B. by designating a nature reserve or providing or protecting community facilities from closure. The stories also showed how their engagement supported and enriched the lives of individuals and groups in a community, from providing sports, arts and culture activities and education for children and youth to providing opportunities and skills like IT training or work experience. We also discovered other examples of how the impact of engagement favored and fostered broader change, such as: e.g.:

Advocacy and raising awareness of the issue

Advancement of international causes through support, campaigns and fundraising for overseas charities; Environmental benefits, e.g. B. Reducing carbon emissions through individual behavior changes and local and national activism through environmental organizations

Conflict and tension are inevitable aspects of engagement

Politicians and practitioners tend to portray participation as something positive, emphasizing the benefits of engagement and how it can help society, the forms of participation and the people involved. However, this is only one side of the coin: participation can also have negative effects on communities and participants and is usually associated with conflict and tension.

There is evidence of problems arising from conflicting or dominant personalities within forms of participation, the formation of cliques and debates about the achievement of organizational goals. In addition, several of the people we spoke to had burned out or their personal relationships had come under significant strain during particularly stressful or hectic times within the organizations that employed them. As a result of such experiences, some people have decided to stop working. There are also cases where conflict arose because they worked with anyone who opposed the state or other forms of power directly at the local or national level, and sought or opposed changes lobbied through at the local level.