Citizens' Engagement Using Communication Technologies

Citizens' Engagement Using Communication Technologies

Olga Fedotova (University of Aveiro, Portugal), Leonor Teixeira (University of Aveiro / IEETA- Campus Universitário de Santiago, Portugal) and Helena Alvelos (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch264
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Background: E-Participation Research

E-participation is generally defined as an area where ICTs are used in order to support citizens’ engagement in defining the process and content of policy-making through deliberation and active decision-making initiatives (OECD, 2003; Sæbø, Rose, & Skiftenes Flak, 2008; Wimmer, 2007).

In spite of being frequently considered as an independent area of research, e-participation has a strong connection with e-government and e-democracy fields of investigation. Nevertheless, the interplay between these three domains is still not clear and the researchers’ points of view on this topic vary. Some authors state that e-participation is a key element of electronic government (Panopoulou, Tambouris, Sanchez-Nielsen, Zotou, & Tarabanis, 2011) and democratic government (Åström, Karlsson, Linde, & Pirannejad, 2012). Accordingly, Islam (2008) classifies e-participation as a sub-set of e-government and e-democracy areas, supported by ICTs. However, Sanford and Rose (2007) state that, despite of being categorized as a branch of e-government, e-democracy is the most direct precursor of e-participation.

E-democracy and e-participation concepts were awhile considered equivalent (Peristeras, Mentzas, Tarabanis, & Abecker, 2009). It was Macintosh (2008) who clarified the concepts by stating that e-participation together with e-voting are two areas of e-democracy, addressing the process of citizen e-participation in the democratic decision-making and in the electoral process, respectively. Susha and Gronlund (2012) also support this approach though highlight the discrepancy between focuses and themes in the e-participation and e-democracy fields. Hence, e-participation is considered to have a broader scope than e-democracy as it goes beyond political and governance related fields. Besides, methods and tools used to study e-participation are focused on the socio-technical aspects of this phenomenon (e.g.: user-centered design, usability and accessibility, etc.), while the methods and tools in the e-democracy domain are mainly used to assess democratic effects of ICTs application (e.g.: stakeholder analysis, policy analysis, etc.).

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Government: Use of ICTs to enable citizens’ access to government information and services.

Citizen Power: One of the effects of citizens’ engagement caused by power redistribution between the government and the governed, allowing the latter a more active participation in decision-making processes.

Citizen Engagement: Mechanism used to enhance the quality of policy making by redistributing power from authority to the citizens.

E-Decision Making: Use of ICTs to increase the input of citizens in government decision making.

E-Participation Frameworks: Frameworks used either to characterize the e-participation field or to assess the quality of the implemented e-participation initiatives.

E-participation: Use of ICTs to enhance citizen engagement in the democratic decision-making process.

Web 2.0: A set of technologies that enable new forms of gathering, organizing and sharing information thus contributing to new forms of collective intelligence harnessing.

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