University of Sussex
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Building civic architecture in cyberspace: digital civic spaces and the people who create them

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posted on 2023-06-08, 18:46 authored by Catherine Howe
At the same time as we are seeing ever increasing numbers of people actively using social networking sites, and growing evidence of increased participation in campaigning and digital activism, we are seeing a decline in democratic participation in the UK at both a national and local level. This thesis examines these two contrasting effects within the context of Local Government in the UK and explores what the impact might be at the neighbourhood level. The work discusses the influence of place based online activity on democratic decision-making Local Government and the ways in which traditional processes of decision-making, democratic participation and community engagement practice may need to change to reflect the upward pressure that is being exerted by citizen use of new technologies and adjust the way in which Local Government facilitates citizen participation in decision-making. The work develops the concept of Digital civic space as an alternative to eParticipation platforms and discusses how such spaces are being used to connect online activity with democratic processes at present and how present experience may be used to inform future developments. Employing an Action Research method, the research analyses three projects in order to examine the nature of the pre-existing participation online and the impact of creating online civic spaces to connect the participants both to each other and to local decision-makers. Design criteria are proposed which describe the necessary qualities of public-ness, openness, co-production, definition of place and identity and the thesis reaches conclusions as to how these criteria might better connect local resident with the democratic decision-making processes for their communities.


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  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

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