My Centre for Social Informatics colleagues Dr Wegene Demeke and Dr Bruce Ryan have started 2019 with a trip to Brazil. They are in São Paulo to develop some research on participatory budgeting, i.e. the process by which citizens (and not politicians) vote to decide how government money is spent. Participatory budgeting is well-established in Brazil – it was first implemented in Porto Alegre in the late 1980s – and is therefore an ideal location for research of this nature.
Wegene and Bruce are interested in the extent to which the very poor take part in participatory budgeting in Brazil, and are particularly keen to explore the impact of participatory budgeting on the allocation of funding to projects to support this population. Ultimately they are addressing two research questions in their work:
- What are the barriers to democratic participation amongst economically deprived populations?
- How might these be overcome (so that more public funding may be diverted towards pro-poor projects)?
Supported with funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund, Wegene and Bruce’s work in São Paulo comprises (1) bringing together a team of research collaborators interested in issues related to participatory budgeting and economically deprived populations, (2) conducting a literature review to strengthen their understanding of the barriers to participatory budgeting with specific reference to marginalised groups, (3) designing, implementing, and writing up a pilot study on participation in participatory budgeting amongst the poor in São Paulo, and (4) exploring the feasibility of extending this work further, e.g. to contribute to the development of a large joint grant proposal with collaborating researchers in Brazil.
Wegene and Bruce are also taking this opportunity to tell their Brazilian colleagues about participatory budgeting in Scotland, as in the presentation below (also available on SlideShare).
We are very grateful to our colleagues within the Departamento de Engenharia de Produção da Politéchnica at the University of São Paulo, especially Professor Renato de Oliveira Moraes and Hugo Martinelli Wakanuki, for facilitating Wegene and Bruce’s research in Brazil. They have kindly advised on practical arrangements and introduced Wegene and Bruce to the key contacts with whom they are conducting this collaborative work.
If you would like to find out more about Wegene and Bruce’s activities in Brazil, please visit Bruce’s blog, where he is providing regular updates on the trip.