Theses Doctoral

Public Participation and the New York City Title XX Planning Process: Its Perceived Impact and Efficacy

Hopkins, Thomas J.

In a democracy, the concept of citizen participation is the essence of that system: it may not be an overstatement to declare that without citizen participation there is no democracy. The concept plays an important role in the study reported here. The writer examines a major element in the implementation of Title XX of the Social Security Act in New York City. The aim is to critically assess the perceived impact of the implementation of the citizen participation process of Title XX in New York City from 1979-1981. To accomplish this task, a survey focuses on citizen participation as this was acted out during July and August 1981. The information acquired illuminates the matter of who participated in the process, why they participated and what was the perceived impact of their participation.

Citizen participation and decentralization are issues which have become salient during historical periods. Clearly during the 1960s it characterized the thrust of southern blacks who demanded greater respect for their voting rights. It also had its echo in the cry for community control of schools in Brooklyn. There is no doubt that the concept of citizen participation was on the national agenda. By 1975 it was not clear if the two concepts, citizen participation and decentralization, had the same meaning as they did during the 1960s.

This study investigates the New York City Title XX citizen participation process, in general, the public hearings in particular. A total sample population of (47) made up of public officials (9), voluntary organization leaders (26), and community based advisory chairpersons (12) was examined through the use of quantitative and qualitative methodology. All respondents were interviewed, the interviews were tape recorded, the tapes were codified and a quotation bank was developed.

The findings suggest that a strong ambivalence tone is present. This perception transcends both the respondents' classification and race. On the manifest or decision making level the process was perceived as not efficacious. However, on the latent level long run benefits are viewed as a possibility. While the ambivalence, quantitatively, transcended race; qualitatively the black and white ambivalence appears to emerge from different perspectives.

In sum, this study shed some light on the Title XX citizen participation process from the point of view of those actively involved.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 26, 2015