Reading Chutapruttikorn’s article on participatory budgeting in Bangkok left me with one question: as practitioners are we trying to integrate low income households into mainstream society or are we trying to provide the physical improvements while preserveing the community infrastructure? And is that our decision to make? Personally I would suggest the later would be the right approach but as Chutapruttikorn (2009) suggests the environmental improvements and changes in social status changes people’s behaviour to more individual, independent lifestyle. So if the community becomes gentrified over time, would that mean the programme has been successful or a failure. It would be hypocritical for me to say that it would mean failure due to lost community values if we are also aiming to integrate the urban poor into mainstream society. If the mainstream society does not have the same community values, why is it unacceptable for the urban poor to adapt to urban, independent lifestyle if that leads to integration? And if this thought provokes opposition, shouldn’t we think about changing our own lifestyles to facilitate for preservation of community values.
Chutapruttikorn, R. (2009). We speak louder than before: A reflection on participatory housing design in Bangkok. Trialog , 64-68.