Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Kanthie Athukorala


This research paper is a case study of participants' perceptions of their involvement in a process of development planning undertaken by the community of Laborie on the island of St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean. Participants are drawn from an overall sample determined by case design theory and the boundaries of the case under investigation. During in-depth interviews participants provide responses to questions on the authenticity of the participatory process. Data from participants is validated through triangulation with evidence from a focus group meeting and other documents and artifacts from the 3-year development planning process. The research also investigates how participants' perceptions compare with participatory approaches elucidated in the development literature.

Participants perceived that they were involved in a novel, holistic, growth-oriented and empowering process, which resulted in outcomes such as a Strategic Development Plan for Laborie and the Laborie Development Foundation.

While acknowledging the perceived participatory nature of the process, the analyses reflect the multiplicity of issues and perspectives on participation currently debated in the literature. The research concludes that the approach used in Laborie signals a departure from previous top-down development initiatives that can provide useful lessons for other communities grappling with the issue of democratic governance. The research adds value to the literature on new pluri-partite governance arrangements that seek to embrace civil society organizations and launch a new era in state and civil society relations.


Civic and Community Engagement | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Rural Sociology


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