When top down visions meet grassroots digital activism: notes from Netherlands

When top down visions meet grassroots digital activism: notes from Netherlands

The Netherlands provides several avenues for citizen participation in formal policy-making, and is often described as a global leader in e-participation and e-government. Yet, even in a context where citizen participation has become a policy principle, the desired format of and the actual opportunities for participation can be problematic. The Dutch case raises awareness on four pitfalls: the appropriation of citizen participation as a means to legitimise cuts to public services; the development of a limited (and limiting) vision of participation; the difficulty of a systematic review of the landscape of participation opportunities; and the limited approach to the role of ICTs in policy-making.

This Brief seeks to understand what lessons can be learned from the integration of ICTs in the governance process in the Netherlands. In particular, it looks at the visions and opportunities for citizen engagement opened up by the use of digital technologies in governance processes. This research presents the top-down visions and opportunities for citizen engagement, comparing them to those emerging organically out of a specific case of grassroots digital activism.

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