Government policies are predicated by certain interests. In a democratic society, these interests are assumed to be those of the people, perhaps as expressed through an elected representative. However, the pervasive influence of elites in conjunction with the decreased competent use of established democratic institutions on the part of the public, point to the need for new institutions and new ways of conceptualizing public interest. This paper posits that participatory budgeting presents such an institution in facilitating a more accurate conception of public interest by empowering an openly
accessible, deliberative space. Participatory budgeting has made an impact in some Brazilian cities since 1989, and has been experimented with more recently in Canada, and the United States. Using Paulo Freire’s conception of praxis, this paper explores if these processes are a viable and sustainable method for redefining public interest in the eyes of policymakers and the public alike.