Since the 1990s, the theme of participation has come to the fore in international debates regarding at least three critical issues: the relationship between representative democracy and deliberative democracy and the possibility of citizens’ empowerment through their involvement in policy making; the role of communication and of digital media in promoting new forms of participation; the feeling of disaffection toward politics and of democratic deficit. What we observe is a proliferation of experiences of both bottom-up and top-down enhanced forms of civic engagement. Our article focuses on “public engagement.” We analyze the civic collaboration policy promoted by the Municipality of Bologna (Italy) in the frame of “collaborative governance” of the commons, based on civic involvement and governance transparency. Civic collaboration is characterized by a mixed communication ecology. We focus on the inclusiveness of this form of public engagement with local policies and on the role of digital media in supporting citizen’s engagement. Civic collaboration emerges as a new, interesting frontier in top-down enhanced participation in local policies. We are currently witnessing some promising changes in the boundaries of participation, in civic practices and competencies. In conclusion, we argue that the concreteness of the projects of civic collaboration can enhance citizens’ trust in the municipal administration, but we wonder whether it is likely to become a substitute for fuller citizen participation in local governance and whether it could also foster a removal of the controversial dimension of the political.

Public Engagement, Local Policies, and Citizens Participation: An Italian Case Study of Civic Collaboration

BARTOLETTI, ROBERTA;
2016-01-01

Abstract

Since the 1990s, the theme of participation has come to the fore in international debates regarding at least three critical issues: the relationship between representative democracy and deliberative democracy and the possibility of citizens’ empowerment through their involvement in policy making; the role of communication and of digital media in promoting new forms of participation; the feeling of disaffection toward politics and of democratic deficit. What we observe is a proliferation of experiences of both bottom-up and top-down enhanced forms of civic engagement. Our article focuses on “public engagement.” We analyze the civic collaboration policy promoted by the Municipality of Bologna (Italy) in the frame of “collaborative governance” of the commons, based on civic involvement and governance transparency. Civic collaboration is characterized by a mixed communication ecology. We focus on the inclusiveness of this form of public engagement with local policies and on the role of digital media in supporting citizen’s engagement. Civic collaboration emerges as a new, interesting frontier in top-down enhanced participation in local policies. We are currently witnessing some promising changes in the boundaries of participation, in civic practices and competencies. In conclusion, we argue that the concreteness of the projects of civic collaboration can enhance citizens’ trust in the municipal administration, but we wonder whether it is likely to become a substitute for fuller citizen participation in local governance and whether it could also foster a removal of the controversial dimension of the political.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2639036
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