To find out about participatory economics, I read two books, The ABCs of Political Economy by Robin Hahnel and Parecon by Michael Albert. I would recommend the former over the latter. Admittedly, they cover somewhat different ground. The former critiques basic concepts in neoclassical economics in light of political economy and is not meant as a detailed exposition of participatory economics (parecon). But in defending political economy, Hahnel explains the moral foundations behind parecon's system of remuneration and parecon's critique of markets much more clearly and concisely than Albert does. And Albert's book is so turgid and repetitive that you arguably get a clearer picture of the parecon system (and of the various criticisms of the model) from Hahnel's one chapter on the subject than you do from Albert's whole book. Hahnel's book is a model of how to popularize complex ideas without condescension or oversimplification. You finish the book feeling he has equipped you to think for yourself. In his care to craft comprehensible prose, Hahnel is consistent with his own belief in popular democracy and open debate. Hahnel also practices what he preaches by debating with alternative points of view, quoting from other authors, referring to other traditions, and providing ample footnotes.
By contrast, Albert's style contradicts his avowed commitment to democracy and non hierarchical discourse. He writes like a member of the "coordinator" class he condemns. His writing exemplifies what Richard Lanham, in the tradition of Orwell, has called the "official style," a style laden with abstract nouns linked by prepositional phrases and passive verbs, a style designed not to communicate ideas clearly, but to overawe the reader with pseudo-scientific abstractions connoting bureaucratic mastery over reality. Moreover, unlike Hahnel, Albert largely ignores the long tradition of other authors who have speculated on the subject of life after capitalism and provides no footnotes or endnotes and only a very skimpy bibliography. He does not review other proposed systems of non-market, democratic planning and dismisses market socialism in only 1 1/2 pages as another version of class society. He thereby does little to discourage readers from fallaciously inferring that if they oppose capitalism they must favor the particular system he is proposing (notice how even the book's title, "Parecon: Life After Capitalism," encourages this fallacy). Although he does rehearse various criticisms of parecon, his summary of critics is cursory and brusque, his defense of himself long-winded and blustering. Hahnel, by contrast, carefully and respectfully articulates other perspectives before stating his own position.
In case you think I'm being too harsh, here are two examples of Albert's style (you could find similar sentences on almost every page):
"Different abilities to benefit from competitive exchange can also result from more accurate predictions about uncertain consequences or from differential knowledge of the terms of exchange (which in turn could stem from genetic differences in this particular 'talent' or differences in training or, more often, from different access to relevant information)."
As Lanham notes, in bureaucratic prose like this, you never know who is doing what to whom; agents and actions are obscured beneath heaps of abstract nouns. But that sentence was easier to digest than many. Try this one:
"Suppose in place of top-down central planning and competitive market exchange, we opt for cooperative, informed decision-making via structures that ensure actors a say in decisions in proportion as outcomes affect them and that provide access to accurate valuations as well as appropriate training and confidence to develop and communicate preferences--that is, we opt for allocation that fosters council-centered participatory self-management, remuneration for effort and sacrifice, balanced job complexes, proper valuations of collective and ecological impacts, and classlessness."
This is a defense of participatory economics written as if by a government policy wonk. For a clearer, more concise and effective defense, I'd turn to Hahnel.