Open government initiatives offer new, often technologically enabled avenues for civic participation. But which populations have the access and motivation to use these channels? Frequently, programs and platforms privilege certain groups over others.
An ethnographic study of participatory budgeting in Rome (conducted by Julien Talpin of the University of Lille) found that participation skewed towards those who were already active in civic affairs and in relative positions of power. Sixty-three percent of participants were activists. White-collar workers and those over 50 were also over-represented.
The study of the individual effects of participation has mainly focused on the impact of deliberation on actors’ preferences, mostly based on quantitative and experimental research. I argue here that ethnography, based on a praxeologic and process approach, can offer broader results on actors’ learning in participatory devices than the cognitive effects generally emphasized.
Grounded in a case-study of a participatory budget in Rome, the research shows participation allows learning new skills and civic habits but may also bring about a greater distrust with politics.
Explaining the learning process, the paper stresses the different learning potential of participatory institutions. A condition for the durability of the effects observed is that participation be repeated over time. This requires integration within the institution, which happens for only a few; the majority of participants being disappointed stop participating. Speaking the language of the institution, some participants are however integrated enough to acquire further civic skills and knowledge, and even to endure a politicization process.
Finally, the study of actors’ long-term trajectories allows drawing conclusions on the social conditions of civic bifurcation. Ethnography thereby allows grasping the long-term consequences of civic engagement.
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Another EPIC conference come and gone, and no, we’re not using “epic” in the way under-10s use it about cool things on the internet. EPIC is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, one of the most important annual events for practitioners of anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines. Ethnography is one of Experientia’s key methodologies, underpinning […]
Service Design Intern: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, is looking for service design interns for our Turin, Italy office, to support research, concept development and design. The ideal candidate will be a holistic thinker and designer, with a systems approach to enable complex service offerings, driven by an understanding […]
Senior Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) We are looking for service designers with outstanding design skills, methodical thinking, and experience in designing complex service ecosystems using a human-centered design methodology. Required 2-5 years’ experience in service design and/or user experience design University and/or advanced degree(s) in Service Design, Interaction Design, User […]
Lead Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) Experientia is seeking a Senior Service Designer to lead service design projects from the Turin, Italy office (*) or the Lausanne, Switzerland office. The Senior Service Designer will have experience leading a team of behavioral analysts and service modelers in research and service design projects lasting […]
by Erin O’Loughlin – Photos: Naz Kazazoglu In Turin, you only need to tell your taxi driver “Take me to the skyscraper” to end up at the impressive Innovation Center of the Intesa Sanpaolo bank, rising in the heart of Turin, with a fine view of the Turin hills and the Italian alps. Here on […]