Survey research on public participation in Johannesburg © Katrin Hofer & Social Surveys South Africa

Public participation has become a widely used concept in the rhetoric and practice of planning, and an accepted approach in the formulation and implementation of spatial plans, urban policies, or development projects. Despite the widespread use of the concept in both theory and practice, there is however no common understanding of what participation encompasses.

This doctoral research project contributes to a more nuanced understanding of participation and addresses two main questions: How can the phenomenon of participation be conceptualised in a way that does justice to its variety of different forms? And what is the people’s perspective of participatory processes in practice? Accordingly, this project consists of two parts: a conceptual part and an empirical part. The empirical part of the research is conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa, and follows a sequential multi-​method research design combining statistical analysis of survey data (including a factorial survey experiment) with case-​study analysis (based on focus group discussions).


Doctoral student: Katrin Hofer


Prof. Dr. David Kaufmann

Project website
Project timeframe

December 2019 – August 2024