Voice or Chatter? Citizen Engagement in the Digital Age

wordle 2Information and Communication Technologies ( ICTs) have had a significant impact on citizen engagement processes. By providing the basis for continuous dialogue and opening up greater possibilities to contribute to public discourse, digital technologies have restructured the terrain of everyday civic-political life. As systems of civic action and governance are resocialized through technology, this arena of rapid change has attracted considerable research interest.

The Voice or Chatter Project is an attempt to move beyond descriptive explorations of citizen agency to gain generalizable insights for governance practice. Using Anthony Giddens’ structuration framework (1984), the study will investigate how values are renegotiated, new rules evolve to legitimize new forms of participation and power is re-distributed between government and citizens, thus tracing how interactions among actors continuously shape and reproduce governance institutions.

This ten month research study will contribute macro-level analytical insights from specific micro-level initiatives. Offering a comprehensive analytical framework, the study will adopt interpretive approaches to explain the shifting terrain of governance in these times of flux, drawing attention to policy issues and governance practices that matter for meaningful citizen engagement.

The Voice or Chatter project is spearheaded by IT for Change with support from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and the Making All Voices Count (MAVC) consortium. The research network comprises collaborators from across the globe including South Africa, Kenya, Philippines, India, Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay.