Managing the Conflict: Building Infrastructure and Democratic Participation

By Andrea Averardi


Infrastructure siting policies continue to be the frequent target of opposition from the local communities that bear the economic and social costs of the construction of unwanted facilities—a phenomenon that does not happen only in Italy. The question of balancing the certainty and inclusiveness of these controversial decisions has long been the subject of sociological and economic analyses. On the other hand, there have been few legal studies on the topic. Adopting an empirical approach, the work provides a critical legal analysis of
the decision-making processes for siting «unwanted» facilities. The study is divided into two parts. The first examines two Italian cases that are particularly significant as examples of «conflict on the decision» and «conflict on participation». In the second part, other two cases, drawn from the French experience, are considered; these illustrate the relationship between participation, decision-making and consensus-building. The conclusions provide an interpretative grid for the deconstruction and comprehension of the causes of siting conflicts. Furthermore, it design a decision-making model characterized by an incremental approach, in which — using the scale of participation developed by Arnestein — including the voices of private subjects in the public action ensures (to a certain extent at least) procedural accountability of public administrations.