Because of its popularity, there is now a large literature examining how participatory budgeting (PB) deepens participation by the poor and redistributes resources. Closer examinations of recent cases of PB can help us to better understand the political configurations in which these new participatory democratic spaces are embedded, and articulate the conditions that might lead to more meaningful outcomes. Who participates? For whose benefit? The articles in this symposium, on participatory budgeting in New York City (PBNYC), highlight both strengths and challenges of the largest American PB process. They focus less on redistribution, more on the dimensions of the process itself and of PBNYC’s successful social inclusion, new dynamics between participants and local politicians, and the subtleties of institutionalization. The symposium also reminds us, however, that contestations over meaningful participation are on-going, and that of all of PBNYC’s multiple goals, equity has proven to be the most elusive.
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This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article published in New Political Science, available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07393148.2017.1278854.