This article adopts an operational protocol for evaluating participation from Jürgen Habermas's theory of communicative action. The research setting is citizen participation in a city government's policy-making process on smoking in public places. Participation as communicative action is evaluated by the extent to which citizens accept the validity of what policy makers say and by whether citizens feel that they can raise concerns about a proposed policy in unrestricted communication environments. Findings indicate that citizens feel participatory in a decision-making process if they recognize policy makers' validity claims and perceive uncoerced speech conditions. Communicative action variables exercise significant predictability on a dependent variable indicating policy legitimacy.
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