Redefining Citizenship and Civic Engagement: political values embodied in FixMyStreet.com

Burcu Baykurt

Abstract


This article argues that citizen-driven local public service improvement systems raise not merely technical issues, like efficiency or ease of use, but also political ones. It focuses on an example from the UK, FixMyStreet.com, which enables citizens to report physical problems in their neighborhood and to track their resolution by local councils. Its analysis suggests that the website produces a form of political culture (through its design features that are guided by certain values) that promotes an immediate, clickable, fleeting, problem-focused and individualized form of civic engagement. Since it is built on an open source code, many other websites in different countries follow this certain civic engagement model without necessarily addressing the politics of the design. In response, this study argues that civic values that are concerned with the interests of a local community rather than individual or institutional ones should guide such technologies so that those technical systems could lead to community action, thereby empowering citizens. To illustrate how civic values can be incorporated into design, the related literature and methodology on value sensitive design guides the analysis while relying on the measures of deliberative participation for betterment of design features as well as the designing process.

Keywords


values in design; citizenship; civic engagement; participation; local government;

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