Citizen e-Participation in Urban Planning: Achievements and Future Challenges in a Mediterranean City

Citizen e-Participation in Urban Planning: Achievements and Future Challenges in a Mediterranean City

Teresa Graziano
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2017070101
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In recent years, new smart technologies have given citizens' movements and informal groups unprecedented possibilities of communication that allow them to achieve a wider audience, mobilise new activists and negotiate with local institutional actors. Even in the planning field, an extraordinary range of new strategies and practices of participatory e-democracy has been recently emerging, which has been affecting local planning and city governance. Thus, this paper aims at exploring potentialities and critical aspects of citizen's web based movements claiming for a more participatory and sustainable urban planning, trough a critical examination of selected case studies in a Mediterranean city, Catania (Italy). The inter(net)connections between urban planning and citizen's e-activism, and consequently between the virtual sphere and public urban spaces, are scrutinized through the analysis of their discourses and narratives in the online documentation as well as interviews with activists.
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New Technologies And The Geography Of Activism And Participation

The growing centrality of the Internet and the Web has led many scholars to decode their complex architecture and, particularly in the domain of geography, their impacts and relations with spaces and places of the real-world dimension.

The Internet, as a global network of computers (Dodge & Kitchin, 2001), has been regarded as the most comprehensive information system (Kellerman, 2007) exerting a deep impact on the geographical characteristics of spaces (Brunn, 1998).

Thus, pioneering geographical researches were focused on the attempts at “mapping” cyberspace as a new geographical sphere (Dodge, 1999), seen as a (apparently) de-territorialized dimension interfering with traditional geographical spaces (Batty, 1993).

Apart from the constantly growing intersection between the physical space and the cyberspace, the Web - particularly the Web 2.0 and 3.0, based on collaborative co-creation - has spread the sense of an increasing democratization in the production and consumption of contents. The proverbial “long tail” of the Web 2.0 allows fringe/minority groups or citizens’ participatory movements to find their audience and even be economically viable (Moeller & Stone, 2013).

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