Last November, I started a list to help keep track of the ever-evolving debate around participatory budgeting and its promise and merits, particularly in the United States: Participatory Budgeting: Arguments Pro and Con

The goal is to compile a comprehensive list of arguments pro and con Participatory Budgeting (PB). The term participatory budgeting here refers to the process that originated out of Brazil in the late 1980s, whereby a portion of a local budget is allocated via direct citizen control. […]

The five pro and eleven con arguments collected to date provide a good entry point into the discussion.

Criticism of any public participation process, including participatory budgeting, often reflects valid concerns from citizens and stakeholders. From my observation, conveners and organizers of participatory efforts often prefer not to be challenged and tend to avoid addressing these concerns openly.

However, there are at least two reasons why preparing for criticism can help organizations build stronger public participation programs:

  • Addressing specific concerns, or at least communicating the reasons why they cannot or will not be addressed at the present time, can increase transparency and build buy-in.
  • Anticipating certain common concerns during the planning phase of a project can help improve the overall design or communications strategy.

If you’ve come across other arguments in favor of, or against, participatory budgeting, or if you have any rebuttals to share, please feel free to add them directly to the document. Thanks!