January 2016 End date
In many parts of the world social media and new technology are fast becoming key avenues through which citizens can access and influence the policy-makers who impact their lives..
But, while we can chart the explosion of this new way of engaging in governance, we still don’t know enough about how to recruit people to use it; nor do we understand if - and how - these ICTs actually impact those using them.
Do people who have the opportunity to track the actions of their elected representatives become more interested in politics, more comfortable carrying out civic acts. Do they feel more powerful in the political process? By unlocking the potential for citizen voice, is there a route to improving the accountability of governments and public agencies because citizens are more engaged?
ICTs may play a key role in opening up politics to new kinds of citizens, and we need to find out more if we are to understand, and harness, this potential.
To try and answer some of these questions, University College London is undertaking an experimental study, recruiting citizens in Kenya to use ICTs to observe and audit their political representatives.
This study aims to find out whether these citizens consequently develop more positive, critical and constructive attitudes and behaviours toward politics – and whether they are more ready to hold their representatives to account. It also explores whether new ways of recruiting citizens to ICT-focussed initiatives leads to better representation.