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Voice or chatter? Making ICTs work for transformative citizen engagement: research report summary

Date added: September 14, 2017

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What are the conditions in democratic governance that make information and communication technology (ICT)-mediated citizen engagement transformative? While substantial scholarship exists on the role of the Internet and digital technologies in triggering moments of political disruption and cascading upheavals, academic interest in the sort of deep change that transforms institutional cultures of democratic governance, occurring in ‘slow time’, has been relatively muted.

This study attempts to fill this gap. It is inspired by the idea of participation in everyday democracy and seeks to explore how ICT-mediated citizen engagement can promote democratic governance and amplify citizen voice.

ICT-mediated citizen engagement is defined by this study as comprising digitally-mediated information outreach, dialogue, consultation, collaboration and decision-making, initiated either by government or by citizens, towards greater government accountability and responsiveness.

The study involved empirical explorations of citizen engagement initiatives in eight sites – two in Asia (India and Philippines), one in Africa (South Africa), three in South America (Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay) and two in Europe (Netherlands and Spain).

This summary of the larger Research Report presents recommendations for how public policies and programmes can promote ICTs for citizen engagement and transformative citizenship.  In doing so it provides an overview of the discussion the authors undertake on three inter-related dimensions, namely:

  • calibrating digitally mediated citizen participation as a measure of political empowerment and equality
  • designing techno-public spaces as bastions of inclusive democracy
  • ensuring that the rule of law upholds democratic principles in digitally mediated governance.

 

The full research report can be downloaded here

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