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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19146

Title: Learning Democracy through Community Management: The Case of Toronto Community Housing Corporation
Authors: Foroughi-Mobarakeh, Behrang
Advisor: Schugurensky, Daniel
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: Participatory Democracy
Toronto Housing
Citizenship Learning
Issue Date: 25-Feb-2010
Abstract: This cross-disciplinary study extends existing theoretical and normative arguments regarding participatory democracy and adult informal learning by identifying the ways in which participation in community-based governance structures provides learning opportunities and builds individuals’ civic capacity. It also determines the functional characteristics of such schemes by analyzing the case of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s Tenant Participation System (TPS), a state-sponsored program to integrate principles of participatory democracy into the norms of public service delivery. As has been noted in the literature, people are motivated to participate for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they see a real need or potential for change in their community. However, in contrast to past research, tenants also got engaged out of a desire to learn – to learn more about local political procedures. Three conditions were noted as both sufficient and necessary to make participation happen. One was the desire to influence authority over decisions affecting tenants’ housing conditions. Second was the idea that participation has important benefits for the participants. Third was a sense of qualification, that those tenants who participate feel that they are qualified, more than others, thus they choose to step forward to represent their communities. Informal learning through the TPS had several key effects. Increased self-confidence and overcoming fear of authority helped to radically transform the traditional tenant-management relationship into a collaborative endeavour in which tenants get the opportunity to be part of the change they would like to see. In addition, the skills learned through the participatory process resulted in increased managerial efficiency – a self-reinforcing process whereby the participatory project improves through time and through the very act of participation. Learning, however, occurred through cooperation, competition and struggle as well. This study reveals two major challenges. First, the lack of discussion amongst stakeholders regarding the purpose of participation has, in some instances, resulted in confusing practices that complicate the process and eventually hinder the growth of a participatory culture within the organization. Second, conceiving community participation through competitive elections tends to move the collaborative approach to community governance closer to the hierarchical paradigm of property management.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19146
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology - Doctoral theses

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