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close this bookParticipatory Methods in Community-based Coastal Resource Management - Volume 1 - Introductory Papers (IIRR, 1998)
close this folderParticipation and participatory methods
View the documentWhat is participation?
View the documentWhy participation?
View the documentDegrees of participation
View the documentObstacles to participation
View the documentParticipatory methods and other research methods
View the documentReferences

Obstacles to participation

The degree of participation varies greatly from site to site and country to country. There are a large number of factors that can facilitate participation or hinder it. These factors can be external to the community such as the type of political system, or they can be internal to the community such as local cultural norms.

Oakley (1991) identifies three main categories of obstacles to participation: 1) political; 2) administrative; and 3) social.

Political obstacles can occur in centrally planned countries or in de facto authoritarian regimes. Participation that empowers local groups to chart their own directions for development could challenge the status quo and may be perceived as threatening.


Similarly, administrative systems that are highly centralized and dependent on controlled planning and blueprint approaches are not conducive to participatory and adaptive approaches.

Finally, social and cultural and historical obstacles may prove to be extremely challenging especially to the question of who participates. Equitable participation by marginal groups (women, tribal minorities, uneducated, etc.) will require efforts to address cultural norms that relegate these groups to the periphery.