Determinants and Consequences of Citizens' E-Participation: The Case Study of the App MyHomeCity

Determinants and Consequences of Citizens' E-Participation: The Case Study of the App MyHomeCity

Raul Machado (Department of Management, School of Economics and Management, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, Portugal & CBMA (Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology), University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, Portugal & IB-S (Institute of Science and Innovation for Sustainability), University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, Portugal) and António Azevedo (Department of Management, School of Economics and Management, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2020010102
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Abstract

This article aims to discuss the determinants of digital active citizenship behaviors such as the e-participation using reporting urban apps. The article makes a comparative analysis between two groups of citizens: a) 98 users of a reporting app (MyHomeCity) who were selected for the case study); and b) 148 non-users of reporting apps. Users of MyHomeCity revealed higher scores for the satisfaction for life in the city, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and perceived happiness, for all place attachment dimensions and all digital citizenship dimensions except for political activism (online and offline) and critical perspective. The probability of being an app user is predicted by satisfaction for living in the city, place identity (attachment), and digital citizenship dimensions. The implications for public decision makers, app developers, and citizens' organizations are discussed.
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Introduction

Citizenship in the twenty-first century has increasingly evolved into an e-participatory construct that includes abilities, thinking and action regarding Internet use, enabling people to understand, navigate, engage in and transform self, community, society and the world. This definition of digital citizenship provided by Choi (2016) accords with notions of critical (Abowitz & Harnish, 2006) or transformative citizenship (Banks, 2008), while Jones and Mitchell (2016) distinguish digital citizenship education from digital literacy education (Internet and computer technical skills). According to Choi (2016), digital citizenship needs to be understood as a multidimensional and complex concept related with our offline (place-based) civic lives.

Smartphones today play a prevalent role in everyday life, and thus present the possibility that citizens may engage more actively in civil society, opening new channels of communication with urban governance (Höffken & Streich, 2013). According to Höffken and Streich (2013, p.206), electronic participation (e-participation) or mobile participation (m-participation) can be defined as “the use of mobile devices (e.g., mobile phones, smartphones and tablet computers) via wireless communication technology to broaden the participation of citizens and other stakeholders by enabling them to connect with each other, generate and share information, comment and vote.” The increase and extensive use of mobile technologies are thus paramount in promoting and facilitating participation and interaction between citizens and local government, enabling the establishment of collaborative actions.

In this context, citizens are invited to transform their quality of life hence the use of urban apps as co-governance tools has become widespread in contemporary cities and municipalities in order to promote citizen involvement in municipality management (Afzalan & Evans-Cowley, 2015; Ertiö, 2013, 2015; Evans-Cowley, 2012). For example, Mainka, Siebenlist and Beutelspacher (2018) have produced a list of 29 participatory apps in Germany, including Maerker Brandenburg (maerker.brandenburg.de), which enables direct communication with 117 municipalities. Those authors mapped these apps to compare them based on features and usage (defined by the number of downloads).

Other examples of participatory apps include Colab in Brazil (www.publicstuff.com).

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