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There is the general impression that traditional societies, especially those in the developing world, lack participatory mechanisms for their citizens to effectively participate in decisions affecting their lives. This study therefore is an attempt to examine the concept of participation in relation to decision-making and execution of community self-help projects in the Akan traditional society in Ghana. The objective is not to confirm or disagree with this general notion, but to reveal the processes and levels of involvement of the Akans in decisions affecting their lives.

For better understanding of the decision-making processes in the Akan society, one needs to examine the various cultural events depicting the life-cycle of the Akans. The study therefore used the Rites of Passage of the Akan - Birth/Naming, Initiation, Marriage and Death/Funeral - as case studies. In addition to these cultural events, some self-help projects executed by the Akans in some communities were also examined. Since the Akan society is undergoing significant transformation especially due to modernization and western influence, some activities and participation processes of few external community development agencies working in the Akanland were also examined for comparison.

The study reviewed some literature on Culture and Participation and focused on Hofstedes's (2002) four main dimensions of culture for the theoretical framework.

The study concluded that the Akan society is collectivist, has large power distance, has high uncertainty avoidance and is masculine. The values of these dimensions significantly affect one's involvement in decision-making. Therefore there are various levels of participation in decision-making in the Akan Society mainly based on age, sex, group membership and position in the family or the community. Again the study reaffirmed that the Akan culture has rich indigenous knowledge based on their cultural values that development partners working in the Akanland could utilize for successful execution of programs.



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