This chapter explores the rise of participatory development in the 20th century, and especially the "tool kits" that are at the heart of this practice. It examines the conflict between local, radical, highly context-specific forms of participatory liberation, and the attempt to scale up participation and spread it around the globe, wherever it might be needed. The chapter recounts three stories of participatory development. The first is the response to mid-century experiments in “community development,” reviewed and critiqued by academics and development officials in the United Nations' Popular Participation Programme; the second is the radicalization of participation in the work of Paulo Freire and Participatory Action Research; and the third is the work of development expert Robert Chambers and Participatory Rural Appraisal. The chapter examines the line between the purported “authenticity” of conscientização (consciousness-raising) and the inauthenticity of a script or tool kit designed to produced the same experience. In this chapter the emergence of a tool kit becomes central—taking the form of a leather briefcase filled with scripts, techniques and procedures designed to make participation an experience in villages, farms, urban neighborhoods, and development conferences around the world.
Keywords: participatory development, international development, participatory action research, Robert Chambers, Paulo Freire, tool kits, United Nations, scale