Citizens are central actors in public and political arenas. Their ability to hold governments to account and to participate fully in democratic processes is contingent upon the opportunities to freely assemble, associate and express opinions. Around the globe citizens are claiming their rights, rising up to injustices occurring and proposing alternatives. They use “old” methods of social movements and “new” instruments such as social media. Increasingly citizens are also reaching out to a global constituency; think of Occupy, the protests against Monsanto and TTIP. But is this citizen action effective? In this dossier we explore the effectiveness of citizen action in an increasingly interconnected world.
This dossier is informed by 40 years of Hivos practice in supporting citizens in many parts of the world to fight for living a life in freedom and with dignity. It builds on cutting-edge research that we have executed with our research partners. Together with the Institute for Social Studies in The Netherlands and the Institute for Development Studies in the UK, we have researched the effectiveness of citizen participation in development contexts. Simultaneously, with the Centre for Internet and Society and the Centre for Digital Cultures, we explored the role of technology in social change. These findings provide new ways of understanding citizen action, the relationships between rulers and the ruled, and the very meaning of ‘democracy’.
An example is the way we look at politics and political participation. Youth are nowadays perceived to be uninterested in politics, but if you look closely at what many youths are advocating for online, this is very political. These so-called Digital Natives are changing our environment in unimaginable ways. This is why we have published insights from digital natives. We have also looked at other forms of political action such as riots or the use of arts; so-called “unruly politics”. For these and more insights about new forms of citizen action, do browse through this dossier! Are you looking for a specific publication? Use our publication search.