Participation in the field of environmental sanitation has low visibility and is little studied, especially in developing countries where democracy is a relatively recent reality. It is therefore pertinent to assess how social participation in sanitation occurs and how it is presented to society by the media. In this study, the participatory processes in environmental sanitation were assessed using newspaper articles published in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Different categories, such as discrete or continuous processes, passive or proactive populations, and top-down or bottom-up models of governance, were established. Although participation in and conflicts regarding environmental sanitation have been considered to be scarce, they were still observed in some instances, indicating that they occur in a covert or even invisible manner.

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