William Voorberg and Victor Bekkers
Voorberg and Bekkers argue in Chapter 13 that Western governments are retreating from the public domain and are actively seeking alternative forms of public service delivery. These forms are increasingly interactive and reliant on the competences and expertise of citizens. Citizens are no longer considered as (just) end-users of public services, but are expected to be co-creators. Using the conceptual framework of Schneider and Ingram, Voorberg and Bekkers explore what such a social construction of citizens implies for citizens who can be considered as co-creators, but also for citizens who initially do not belong to the group of co-creators. They argue that mainstreaming citizens as such might strengthen certain democratic values such as responsiveness and equal consideration, but at the same time, endangers others such as equal access to public service delivery and service diversity.
Victor Bekkers and Arthur Edwards
This chapter presents a theoretically informed overview of empirical insights in both unsolicited and solicited forms of online citizen involvement in policy processes, including protest politics, social media monitoring, crowdsourcing and online deliberation. Social media uses positively affect the opportunity structure for citizen involvement, especially in the puzzling dimension and in the input phase of policy processes. In later phases, and in the powering dimension, institutional factors bearing on the traditional patterns of involvement of proximate policymakers tend to reduce these effects. Our analysis reveals at least three mechanisms mediating, mitigating and working against the democratic potential of social media: (1) the ‘clash’ between technological capabilities and institutional forces, (2) the ‘double-edged sword’ character of social media, the capabilities of which can also be used by the decisionmakers, and (3) the importance of the landscape of media organizations for the effectiveness of social media uses by citizens.