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stakeholdersthe institutions, groups or individuals involved in, or affected by a project or programme, including beneficiaries or the target group, owners (or lead organisation), sponsor(s), other supporters and opponents. The use of the term has arisen especially as part of a movement in contemporary societies to empower ‘users’. Stakeholders can be differentiated into primary and secondary or the active and the non-active, indicating those directly involved or affected, and those only indirectly affected. Sometimes donors are classified as secondary rather than primary stakeholders, and it follows that there are various sub-categories of stakeholders with differing interests; beneficiaries are unlikely to be a homogenous group, in the same way as departments within a government may have competing interests. The inclusion of stakeholders in programme planning and implementation is in keeping with notions of greater participation and thus democracy. Whether the term stakeholder should also include workers as well as shareholders and consumers as part of a stakeholder society/ stakeholder capitalism is also an issue. see also PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000