Social participation in health in Brazil and England: inclusion, representation and authority

Marian Barnes, Vera S. Coelho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers a brief description and analysis of public participation in health in Brazil and England in order to highlight different motivators and tensions within an acceptance of participation as social policy. Sources methods: The article draws on a range of research in both countries and an analysis of social documents relating to parti- cipation. It is based on collaboration between researchers deriving from broad programmes of work on public participation in which the authors are involved. Argument There is a tension between different principles underpinning collective public involvement in health both within and between countries. Different aspirations or claims have been made about what such participation will achieve and there are trade-offs between design principles that have consequences for issues such as who takes part and thus also for what can be achieved. The democratic origins of public participation are more evident in the Brazilian situation than in England, but there are still questions about the inclusivity of the practices through which this is achieved. The English picture is both more diverse and dynamic, but formal decision-making power of participatory forums is less than in Brazil. Whilst social justice claims for participation have been made in both countries, there is as yet limited evidence that these have been realized.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-236
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Comparataive analysis
  • deepening democracy
  • local knowledge
  • local representation


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