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Table 2 Potential harms of participation

From: Bringing stakeholders together for urban health equity: hallmarks of a compromised process

Cluster A: Delegated control

Cluster B: Demobilization

o Behaviour of grassroots stakeholders shaped by process, thereby containing dissent (e.g. grassroots stakeholders positioned to act as ‘gatekeepers’ rather than as community representatives; meeting norms discourage certain types of input; paperwork/reporting begins to shape thinking) [5, 19, 22].

o Energy of grassroots groups occupied by process, thereby containing dissent.

o Process embeds and transmits logic of status quo (e.g. neoliberalism, colonialism, structural racism and misogyny, etc.).

o Participants experience frustration and/or burn-out. [23, 25, 26].

o Participants lose faith in participatory processes/participation [22].

o Community leaders who have championed process lose credibility [23].

o Energy of grassroots groups sapped by process, thereby diminishing capacity.

o Participants/groups face sanctions for resisting process as defined (see below).

Cluster C: Contraction of state role in public service delivery/regulation

Cluster D: Sanctions

o Success of project relies on free labour of participants.

o Project fails to address and/or distracts from broader, systemic processes due to focus on ‘micropolitics’ [5, 21].

The broader literature emphasizes that participants resisting or building alternatives to official processes can, in some contexts, face sanctions ranging from loss of paid work [19] to imprisonment and violence [27].