The meaning of community and participation in public service delivery : whose interests are served?
Levieux, Candice Alexandra.
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The relative autonomy of the State is a long historical debate. In the current South African context, national policy documents reflect the State as working in the interests of the common good. The complex process of policy implementation, however, would suggest that the relationship between policy goals and policy outcomes is neither linear nor certain. Rather it is determined by a range of factors particularly at the implementation level. Moreover, the success of projects which employ participatory processes are dependent on how participation is conceived. The Hill Street West case study is an attempt to address the question of whether local government acts in the interests of the common or public good or on behalf of vested interests. The use of key informant interviews, documentary data and a short attitudinal survey have shown that the local state chose to act on behalf of a vested interest, arguing that it would also serve the common good. The findings would suggest that this was not the outcome and that ultimately, neither sectoral nor the general interest were adequately served. The outcome is attributable in large measure to underlying interests within the local state agenda with implications for the usefulness of participation.