The article starts out from the definition of "participation" in the sociological dictionary by L. Gallino and then focuses on the use of the concept in the Italian literature on organization sociology on the one hand and on industrial relations on the other. In the first case the concept of participation is essentially absent, in the second case it is used in an inflationary manner, also due to the excessive extension of the concept. In a second step we come back to the definition of "participation" and reaffirm the heuristic value of a clear distinction between "involvement" and "participation", not least by highlighting that even the Italian grammar does not allow to interpret "involvement" in participatory terms. In the next step the paper argues that the use of the concept of participation in terms of "functional participation" or "direct participation" aiming to improve the organization’s efficiency and performance has no sociological foundation, because agency remains constrained by the predefined role. On this basis the article concludes with the proposal to drastically limit the concept of "workers’ participation" to its original meaning which is the one of "indirect" and/or "institutionalised participation" and intended as a method for interest representation, alongside and complementary to collective bargaining and legislation. For the analysis of shop-floor work organization the concept of participation is inadequate; the most suitable analytical tools are provided here by organization sociology, starting with concepts such as cooperation, autonomy and control, and their appropriate specifications.
Keywords: Concepts, cooperation, direct participation, involvement, participation, work.