This article investigates a lost ideal—citizen participation in health policy. We begin by mapping the different types of participation. We then suggest what direct citizen action has achieved in the past, why it ought to be restored today, and how we might go about reviving it. A changing social environment—marked by globalization, immigration, a culture war, and managed care—could be addressed by robust, local, democratic health reforms. Finally, we contrast the top-down health sector with education and crime policies that take communities far more seriously.

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