Rational Ignorance of the Citizens in Public Participatory Planning

Alenka Krek (2005): Rational Ignorance of the Citizens in Public Participatory Planning In: CORP 2005, Internationales Symposion, Vienna

One of the most important goals of public participatory geographic information systems (PP GIS) is to improve citizen’s participation in planning processes. Does this really happen? Unfortunately, very little empirical research exists which would testify or falsify this hypothesis. In the process of trying to involve the citizens in the planning processes, we observe the effect of rational ignorance. Ignorance about an issue is said to be rational when the cost of educating oneself about the issue sufficiently to make an informed decision can outweigh any potential benefit one could reasonably expect to gain from that decision, and so it would be irrational to waste time doing so. For most citizens the personal benefit of getting involved in planning activities and learning how to use a public participatory GIS application is usually low and the cost of participation high. Therefore, they rather decide to ignore the possibility of participation. In this paper, we concentrate on the rational ignorance in spatial participatory planning and the role of PP GIS in this process.

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