Voice or Chatter? Using a Structuration Framework Towards a Theory of ICT-Mediated Citizen Engagement

The Voice or Chatter project (2016-2017) was spearheaded by IT for Change with support from Making All Voices Count (MAVC) consortium. The research network comprised collaborators from across the globe including South Africa, Philippines, India, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. MAVC was a four-year global programme focussed on open, effective and participatory governance in Africa and Asia. It came to an end in November 2017.

 

Project Outputs

Synthesis Report and Summary

Voice or Chatter? Making ICTs Work for Transformative Citizen Engagement

The synthesis report of this multi-country research study explores how ICT-mediated citizen engagement can promote democratic governance and amplify citizens’ voices. Digital choices for democracy can empower or disempower citizens; they can present citizens with real alternatives for equality, thereby deepening democracy, or prove costly for both individual citizens and the polity as a whole.Carried out by IT for Change, the study adopted a comparative case study methodology, building its analysis on empirical explorations of ICT-mediated initiatives in eight countries. In each country, a specific digital citizen engagement initiative was selected as an aid to understanding the historical evolution and particular institutional context of e-participation, through the interplay between structures of governance and citizen agency. Read the full report for more or get the highlights in the research summary.

 

State of the Art Reports

Country Overview: Brazil

This report provides an overview of the normative and institutional state of art of ICT-mediated citizen participation in Brazil. The first section provides an overview of the political and civic liberties framework in Brazil. In the second section the landscape of ICT-mediated citizen engagement is mapped. In the third section, the report engages with implications of technology mediations for deliberative democracy and transformative citizenship. This report is the outcome of a collaboration between IT for Change and Internet Lab, Brazil.

Country Overview: Netherlands

This report aims at providing an overview of the normative and institutional state of art of ICT-mediated citizen participation in the Netherlands. The first section provides an overview of the political and civic liberties framework in the Netherlands. In the second section the landscape of ICT-mediated citizen engagement is mapped. In the third section, the report engages with the implications of technology mediations for deliberative democracy and transformative citizenship.This report is the outcome of a collaboration between IT for Change and Delia Dumitrica, Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Country Overview: Spain

This report aims at providing an overview of the normative and institutional state of art of ICT-mediated citizen participation in Spain. The first section provides an overview of the political and civic liberties framework in Spain. In the second section the landscape of ICT mediated citizen engagement is mapped. In the third section, the report engages with implications of technology mediations for deliberative democracy and transformative citizenship.This report is the outcome of a collaboration between IT for Change and and Ismael PeñaLópez, School of Law and Political Science, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Country Overview: Uruguay

This State of Art report explores how ICTs have enabled civic engagement in Uruguay. The first section provides an overview of the political and civic liberties framework in Uruguay. In the second section the landscape of ICT mediated citizen engagement is mapped through the Open Government Action Plan. In the third section, the report engages with implications of technology mediations for deliberative democracy and transformative citizenship. This report is the outcome of a collaboration between IT for Change and Ana Rivoir, Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay.

Country Overview: South Africa

This State of the Art report intends to provide a contemporary picture of citizen engagement in South Africa and the extent to which ICTs are contributing towards citizen participation with government. The paper is broken down into three sections: the first section is an overview of government policies around citizen participation and a national overview on ICT-mediated citizen engagement, the second section explores some of the emerging ICT-mediated spaces in South Africa, and the last section uses the theory of structuration to analyze digital state-citizen engagement. This report is the outcome of a collaboration between IT for Change and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Country Overview: Philippines

This State of Art report examines how the Philippines is using technology to complement existing structures of citizen engagement. This includes the government's own initiatives to spur public involvement, as well as its partnerships with civil society and other actors to drive active citizen engagement in the country. The paper starts with a section on the existing policy and regulatory structure of ICTs and citizen engagement in the country, including a brief history of e-governance and an overview of the current state of ICT use in the Philippines. The second section zeroes in more closely on ICT-mediated structures of citizen engagement. It lists relevant examples of ICT initiatives and describes how such initiatives impact government responsiveness and citizen participation. The third and final section analyzes whether and how ICT-mediated citizen engagement has caused shifts in meaning, norms, and power within the state-citizen dynamics. This report is the outcome of a collaboration between IT for Change and Foundation for Media Alternatives, Philippines.

Country Overview: Colombia

This report aims at providing an overview of the normative and institutional state of art of ICT-mediated citizen participation in Colombia. The first section provides an overview of the political and civic liberties framework in Colombia. In the second section the landscape of ICT mediated citizen engagement is mapped. In the third section, the report engages with implications of technology mediations for deliberative democracy and transformative citizenship. This report is the outcome of a collaboration between IT for Change and faculty from the Institute of Applied Social Sciences, Federal University of Pará, Brazil.

 

Issue Papers and Briefs

A Tale of Two Consultations: Online Participatory Practices in Brazil

This paper gives an overview of the state of ICT-mediated citizen participation in Brazil. It looks at two online consultation processes, Marco da Civil Internet and Copyright Reform, initiated by the government to understand the impact of citizen participation through technology on governance in Brazil.

When Digital Democracy Falls Short: Insights from Colombia

This paper examines the the impact of ICT mediation in democratisation and citizen engagement in Colombia. It looks at how these impacts can be understood in terms of governance, and if they have led to democratisation in governance and political routines.

Democratic Accountability in the Digital Age

This paper summarises the key issues in the current digital governance scenario in India. It focusses on emerging technological practices in government and articulates the gaps in current legal-policy measures necessary to promote participatory democracy in the digital age.

A Citizenship in Crisis: Voice, Welfare and Other Contestations in the Digital State

This paper examines the nature of e-governance in India, presents the implications of the changing nature of governance and state-citizen engagement particularly for groups at the margins, and makes suggestions for a digitalisation that strengthens participatory democracy in the country.

When Top Down Visions Meet Grassroots Digital Activism: Notes from Netherlands

This paper studies the integration of ICTs in the process of governance in the Netherlands. It looks at the Ons Geld (Our Money) initiative to understand the visions and opportunities technology-mediated governance creates for citizens engagement.

Open Data in Philippines: From Access to Awareness

This paper provides an overview of ICT-mediated and enabled citizen participation in the Philippines. It focusses on various technology backed initiatives like Open Data, led by the Philippines government and its impact on citizen involvement and public participation in the country.

Digital Mapping in Warwick Junction and the Remaking of 'Space': Notes from South Africa

Though South Africa has built ICT platforms for citizen engagement, access is restricted to a small set of wealthy citizens. This paper studies an NGO-led initiative which uses participatory mapping to help informal traders at Warwick Junction participate in a dialogue about their occupational health and safety with the government.

Citizen Participation and the Rise of the Open Source City in Spain

This paper reflects on the critical role of ICTs in reconstructing politics in Spain. It examines Spain’s new experiments in participatory democracy; Decide Madrid launched in the city of Madrid to enable strategic participatory planning for the municipality and decidim.Barcelona another participatory process launched in Barcelona.

New Pathways for Citizen Agency: Open Government National Action Plans in Uruguay

This research brief looks at the experience of open governance in Uruguay. It analyses the creation and implementation of the Open Government National Action Plans to understand its impact on citizen agency and participation in the country.

 

Case Studies

Marco Civil vs Copyright Reform: A Comparative Study

By tracing the historical antecedents, examining the specific citizen engagement mechanisms deployed, and their outcomes in terms of citizen participation, this case study compares and contrasts the consultative process of the Ministry of Justice’s Marco Civil with the one initiated by the Ministry of Culture for Copyright Reform. Besides stressing the differences, we also examine the common ground between these two processes, specifically, their rationale for adopting the institutional innovation of online citizen consultation in lawmaking processes. The case study used the different paths the two public consultations followed as a point of departure, probing into their differences and commonalities.

Urna De Cristal , Colombia

Urna De Cristal (UDC) is an e-participation platform launched by the presidency of Colombia in 2010 (Presidencia, 2010). The platform allows citizens to raise queries/concerns to any government department/agency, put in requests for grievance redress with a guarantee of an official response. It also has an e-consultation space where government departments can solicit public opinion for aiding policy development. UDC has Web TV and Internet radio channels, and linkages to social networking and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, YouTube and Instagram. This case study on UDC attempts to address the following questions: 1. What visions of citizen engagement inform UDC? 2. What norms of citizen engagement are legitimated through UDC? 3. Has UDC contributed to a cooperative and democratic dialog between state agencies and citizens?

Open Data and Citizen Engagement, Philippines

This case study explores the introduction and implementation of open data by the Government of the Philippines. It first presents the government's enabling motivations and how the program was conceived, then looks into the introduction and implementation of open data in the Philippines using Anthony Giddens’ theory of structuration as the analytical lens. It focuses on the key policy, technology, data, and public engagement components of the ODP implementation, including significant milestones and critical issues.

Ons Geld Citizen Initiative, Netherlands

In the Netherlands, citizen initiatives (burgerinitiatieven) are formal mechanisms through which citizens can participate in the process of governance by proposing, modifying or abolishing legislation and policy. One of these initiatives, Ons Geld (Our Money), sought to put the policy on the creation of money on the public agenda. This case study illustrates how ICTs and citizen engagement are used at the grassroots. The case outlines several factors to be considered: the wider background of shared meaning on the political power of ICTs, practices of citizen engagement, social capital, availability of resources such as money, time, knowledge and skills, and institutional channels for civic participation.

Open Government Plan 2011-2015, Uruguay

This case study examines the creation and implementation of the two-yearly Open Government Partnership National Action Plans (OGPNAP), for the years 2012–2014, 2014- 2016, and 2016-2018. The OGP-NAPs seek to improve government transparency, accountability and responsiveness and have been developed though a multi-stakeholder consultation process. The analysis mainly focuses on the bargaining process among stakeholders, to explore how they were able to switch leadership positions, adapt, and cooperate/ collaborate to develop the course of action. It examines how ICT-mediated citizen engagement plays a central role in the creation of the OGP-NAP, and whether this truly represents the use of innovative practices in governance.

Participatory Mapping in eThekwini Municipality, South Africa

The study provides analytical insights into an ICT micro-level initiative, namely the ‘Empowering Street Traders through Urban Disaster Risk Management’ project. Implemented in eThekwini municipality, Durban, South Africa, this project explores ICT-mediated citizen engagement strategies for enhancing government accountability in public service delivery. More specifically, this initiative makes provisions for training and collective organizing with the intention to equip street traders with digital evidence to support their demands for a healthy, sanitary and safe work environment.

Decidim.Barcelona, Spain

This case study examines the e-participation initiative of the City Council of Barcelona (Spain), decidim.barcelona. The study analyzes the inception and first use of decidim.barcelona for the strategic plan of the municipality in the years 2016-2019. This case study is divided into three main sections. First, we examine the institutionalization of the ethos of the 15M Spanish Indignados movement, the context building up to the decidim.barcelona initiative. In the next section the methodology, the case, its design and philosophy are discussed in greater detail. Anthony Giddens’ Structuration theory and Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network theory are unpacked here. In the final section, the results of the project are analyzed and the shifts of the initiative in meaning, norms and power, both from the government and the citizen end are discussed.

 

More details are available on the project microsite here.

 

What We Do
Resource Type
MAVC project