10 Lessons on Citizen Engagement

(Batu Sayici) #1

Excellent read by World Bank for anyone interested in citizen engagement or public participation initiatives: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/10-lessons-on-citizen-engagement @prianka fyi

(Prianka Srinivasan) #2

@Batu Great article,and great to hear the World Bank is moving in this direction, granted it needs to make many changes. A good practical example of participatory governance in the development sector is the work done by Slum Dwellers International sdinet.org

(Batu Sayici) #3

Thanks Prianka will check this out!

(Stephen Buckley) #4

I notice in the article about “10 Lessons” that the last 4 are about the need to “rethink” an aspect of Citizen Engagement.

I also notice that this article was written in early 2016 and, in the interim, there has been widespread recognition that many citizens have grown frustrated with decades-long promises of engagement that is more meaningful that just voting.

I wonder, then, where the author (or the World Bank) has been doing this “rethinking” over the past year and a half. The article, ironically, provides no method for engaging the reader in that discussion.

Of course, I have the 20-20 hindsight, but I sense a reluctance among #OpenGov advocates to admit their surprise about the extent of populist frustration with the current quality of democracies.

But that would require some Humility for us to admit we missed something about the very thing that we had been telling people that we knew so much about, i.e. how to be better listeners to citizens.

Your thoughts?

Stephen Buckley

(Lea Gorgulu webb) #5

I agree, Stephen, and I am really happy that you have found some words for advancing the dialog.

A “method for engaging the [subject?] in” the discussion of “engagement that is more meaningful than just voting.” ---- I think you are onto something worth discussing and documenting.

As a practitioner who finds it necessary to work in areas that are rather decoupled from traditional posts of large organisations, I often bridge that gap, by explaining to ‘subjects’ that the larger organisations don’t mean to be disrespectful. I speak openly with ‘subjects’ about very lofty theoretical issues - like pure versus representational democracy, self-efficacy, the role of the state or of a charity - and then I encourage and support ‘subjects’ to proceed toward their informed goals. Too often, I see other facilitators of public engagement attempt to apply a new hierarchical model in spaces where public knowledge has long been limited by a very paternalistic (usually well-meaning) and rigid systems, RATHER than opening up discussion about what is assumed in the hierarchy?, what is valued in the hierarchy?, what is the view point from the various points in the hierarchy? and where is there a way to feed into (or a lack of access to) the systems that are functioning to accomplish some public goal?

Anecdotally, I can tell you that ‘subjects’ with whom I have worked have (I think always) expressed that they feel greater satisfaction from being involved in my ‘hard conversations’ than when they are patronised by service providers who fail to encourage discussion of difficult questions. One of the hardest questions is usually around protection of minority rights if very vocal majorities are having massively successful influence. Money and funding realities are also difficult. Just because conversations are difficult, however, does not mean that groups of stakeholders can’t engage with the topic. Anecdotally, again, however, I will say that large organisations and government bodies are intimidated by engaging in these conversations with non-professionals. Does that reflect a work environment that does not tolerate risk of failure? I suspect that is one of the problems.

Where do you think we can begin building some models to test?