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PART_WEL Conference

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Welcome to the web page of the

International Conference

Participatory local welfare, citizenship and third sector organizations. What is at stake? (PART_WEL Conference)

Pisa, 31st January – 1st February 2013

More and more frequently, public national and local authorities engage new institutional means and political approaches to foster a wider and deeper participation of citizens and of third sector organizations within the public discourse and the decision-making processes. Participation has been seen as a structural feature of nowadays governance regulatory systems, and has been considered – even at international level – as a positive strategy at contrasting the legitimacy crisis of the representative democratic institutions.

Nonetheless, participation is not easily and univocally definable. In particular, so many efforts to define participation have produced the risk of giving rise to disputed concepts or mere passepartout terms potentially referred to multiple different phenomenon and actions.

Moreover, participation is not a unique, specific or exceptional thing: not a mere process, not only a practice, nor a method or an institutional structure. It could be all of these differently conceptualized and actualized, depending on the particular way to combine, construct and make interact the many factors and issues at stake.

Hence, every attempt at defining it, easily risks to include too many possible dimensions (political, socio-economical, psycho-social, functional and moral), drawing over the concept a veil of ambiguity and vagueness.

Besides, participative principles are not the mere outcomes of a late political bewitchment but part of the most important effects and advancements of the laborious course of modern democracies. The same complex and passionate history of the concept may be the reason that affects its ambiguous status (at least in post-war West Europe political culture and tradition) by giving room to many possible ideas, beliefs and interpretations.

As it has been said, it is not a clear why participation has become, at least apparently, significant in public discourses and practices. And it is even less clear which are the effects and the ongoing perspectives of the so called participative shift, and what kind of factors could help to explain all these.

Starting from these presumptions, the goal of the PART_WEL Conference is to give room to various international experiences, comparative researches and local case studies to explore the participation shift in the processes of planning, implementation and evaluation of local welfare systems, policies and services.

The Conference will bring together scholars, policy-makers, practitioners to exchange views, practices and research outcomes. Il will be structured along 3 Plenary Sessions and 2 Thematic Sessions. Each Thematic Session will be composed by 6 Streams, each of which will host a variable number of selected papers. The plenary sessions will host keynote lectures from leading Italian and international speakers. Mutual feedback will be provided between the plenary and the thematic sessions with the aim of making the conference a thorough, cohesive and dynamic context of discussion.

The PART_WEL Conference is promoted by Volunteering and Participation Foundation and Department of Political and Social Science of the University of Pisa.

It will be held in Pisa (Italy) on 31st January and 1st February 2013.

Please have a look at the the Program (link), the Call for Papers (link), the Streams (link), the Logistics (link), the Registration (link), the Convenors (link).

The Organizing Committee is composed of:

  • Riccardo GUIDI (Volunteering and Participation Foundation)

  • Gabriele TOMEI (Unversità di Pisa, LaRISS – Laboratory of Research on Inclusion and Social Development)

  • Matteo VILLA (Unversità di Pisa, LaRISS – Laboratory of Research on Inclusion and Social Development)

For every question or information, please contact:

Arianna Cortopassi, Mariella Popolla

Volunteering and Participation Foundation

Phone numbers: Bureau: +39 0583 587645 / Mobile: +39 393 8882141

E-mail address:

Skype Account: fondaz.vol.par.

Fax: +39 0583 312748

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