Disrupting Citizenship

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning


The process of digitalization of the public sector, and the introduction of several digital technologies like e.g. social media, blogs, and wikies, has an impact both on the involvement of citizens in public policy processes and on the delivery of public services. In this way, these technologies disrupt the relationship between governments and citizens and hereby the classic concept of citizenship.

All these technologies were introduced with a lot of hype, promising to enhance democracy e.g. by giving citizen easy access to free speech and a range of information (Nam, 2012), and in this way create a new form of citizenship – a digital citizenship (e.g. Mossberger et al., 2007). However, we know from the research of innovation that the impact of innovations not always fulfills the initial intentions. Actually, many innovations have unintended (and often negative) consequences (Sveiby et al., 2012). Given this knowledge, it is the aim of this paper to investigate what kind of digital citizenship the process of digitalization of the public sector have created.

While the classic concept of citizenship distinguish between civic, political, and social dimensions of citizenship, an earlier literature review of the concept of digital citizenship reveals a distinction between a global, a political, and a cultural dimension of the digital citizenship (Jæger, 2015). This paper presents a further literature review focusing on the political dimensions of the digital citizenship. Thus, this review is limited to literature concerning two aspects of the relationship between governments and citizens: 1) the involvement of citizens in policy processes, and 2) the interaction between governments and citizens in connection to delivery of public services.

The findings of the review shows that this field is rather new and under-investigated. It also shows that in some cases, the usage of digital technologies increases political participation of citizens, and in this way enhances democracy. On the contrary, the findings also reveals that in other cases the usage of the technology have completely opposite consequences. Instead of enhancing democracy, the usage of technology leads to oppression of certain political attitudes. The same picture pups up in the field of delivery of public services. In some cases, the technology enhances the relation between the public authority and the citizens by inviting the citizens to participate in the delivery of public service. While in other cases, the usage of technology by public authorities excludes some citizens from certain social benefits and activities.

Jæger, B. (2015). Digital Citizenship: A Literature Review. Presented at the EGPA Conference in Toulouse, August 2015.
Mossberger, K.; C.J. Tolbert and R.S. McNeal (2007). Digital Citizenship. The Internet, Society, and Participation. Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press.
Nam, T. (2012). Dual effects of the internet on political activism: Reinforcing and mobilizing. Government Information Quarterly, 29, p. S90-S97.
Sveiby, K.-E.; P. Gripenberg and B. Segerkrantz (eds.) (2012). Challenging the Innovation Paradigm. UK: Routledge.
Publikationsdato17 apr. 2019
StatusUdgivet - 17 apr. 2019
BegivenhedThe 23rd IRSPM Conference: Renewing Public Management for Stewardship, Innovation, and Impact - Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Varighed: 16 apr. 201919 apr. 2019
Konferencens nummer: 23


KonferenceThe 23rd IRSPM Conference
LokationVictoria University of Wellington
Land/OmrådeNew Zealand

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