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Managing deliberation: Tools for structured Discussions and representation analysis
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5962-1536
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
(English)In: Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, ISSN 1750-6166, E-ISSN 1750-6174Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Purpose – In this article we address the lack of adequate tools for deliberation and analyzing representativeness in a more collaborative e-government. Available discussion tools generally lack the necessary structure for supporting more complex reasoning, or they are too complicated to use. The groups of participants in such contexts often lack representativeness regarding the issues at hand.

Design/methodology/approach – This design research is based on two case studies of urban planning projects in Swedish municipalities. A set of semi structured interviews with municipality officials and residents exposed a need for supporting the direct communication with citizens and NGOs as well as groups internal democratic processes.

Findings  – We show how a general participatory methodology on different levels of governance can be better supported using a standard type of interface and analytical tools for structured discussions and representation. We furthermore address the traditional dichotomy between the government and the citizens in e-government research by developing a tool that takes the individual actor as the starting point rather than an abstract collective.

Research limitations/implications – The tool is at present foremost useful for communicating participatory methodologies. The actor perspective means that the actors are highlighted as owners of specific questions rather than organisations. It also means that a government initiated survey can have competition from other actors using the same instrument.

Practical implications – Except for being an analytical tool for analysing participatory attributes and for better understanding how decisions are formed, the platform also includes tools for more elaborated decision support as well as support for voting and pro/con argumentation integrated with discussion forum for providing reasonable conditions for a broader more well structured participation.

Originality/value – This platform provides integrated analytical tools and elaborated decision support for the individual user to support democracy from a micro perspective rather than a government perspective and goes significantly beyond the capacities of similar tools and methods presently available.

National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-112569OAI: diva2:779427
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2011-3313-20412-31ICT - The Next Generation
Available from: 2015-01-12 Created: 2015-01-12 Last updated: 2016-03-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Accommodating differences: Power, belonging, and representation online
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Accommodating differences: Power, belonging, and representation online
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How can political participatory processes online be understood in the dynamic, conflicted and highly mediated situations of contemporary society? What does democracy mean in a scenario where inequality and difference are the norms, and where people tend to abandon situations in which they and their interests are not recognized? How can we accommodate differences rather than consensus in a scenario where multiple networks of people are the starting point rather than a single community?

In this thesis, these questions are explored through an iterative process in two studies that have used or resulted in three prototypes and one art exhibition. The first study is of communication practices in a global interest community, which resulted in two prototypes: Actory, a groupware that takes differences rather than equality as the starting point for a collaborative tool, and The Affect Machine, a social network where differences are used as a relational capital. The second study is of communication practices in a local commonality where the art exhibition Performing the Common created a public space and involved participants. This resulted in Njaru, a collaborative tool with integrated decision support and visualization of representativeness.

In summary, these works depart from the notion of the importance of belonging for e-participation, where the individual can be seen as a participant in several performative states, more or less interconnected trans-local publics. Here the individuals’ participation in the local public sphere compete with their participation in other communities, and affect the conditions for local democracy. This thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of these processes, and discusses how differences in democratic participation can be managed with the help of ICT.

Abstract [sv]

Hur kan politiskt deltagande på Internet förstås, i de dynamiska, konfliktfyllda och medierade situationerna i dagens samhälle? Vad innebär demokrati i ett scenario där ojämlikhet och skillnad är normen och där människor tenderar att överge situationer där de själva och deras intressen inte erkänns? Hur kan vi hantera skillnader snarare än konsensus i ett scenario där flera nätverk av människor är utgångspunkten i stället för en enda gemenskap?

I denna avhandling har dessa frågor utforskas genom en iterativ process i två studier som har använt eller resulterat i tre prototyper och en konstutställning. Den första studien gäller kommunikationen i en global intressegemenskap vilket resulterade i två prototyper: Actory, som tar olikheter snarare än jämlikhet som utgångspunkt för ett samarbetsverktyg, och The Affect Machine, ett socialt nätverk där olikheter används som ett relationskapital. Den andra studien gäller kommunikationen i en lokal gemenskap där konstutställningen Föreställningar om det gemensamma skapat ett offentligt rum och engagerade deltagare. Resultatet resulterade bland annat i Njaru, ett samarbetsverktyg med integrerat beslutsstöd och visualisering av graden av representativitet i processen.

Sammanfattningsvis utgår dessa arbeten från en idé om vikten av tillhörighet för e-deltagande, där individen kan ses som en deltagare i flera performativa stater, mer eller mindre sammankopplade translokala målgrupper. Här konkurrerar individernas deltagande i den lokala offentligheten med deras deltagande i andra samhällen, och påverkar förutsättningarna för lokal demokrati. Denna avhandling bidrar till en djupare förståelse av dessa processer, och diskuterar hur skillnaderna i demokratiskt deltagande kan hanteras med hjälp av IKT.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2014. 133 p.
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 15-004
e-participation, e-democracy, online identity, artistic research, visual method, participatory method, belonging, singularity, performative states
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108836 (URN)978-91-7649-084-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-20, Lilla hörsalen, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, 13:00 (English)
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2011-3313-20412-31ICT - The Next Generation

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 8: Submitted.

Available from: 2015-02-26 Created: 2014-11-04 Last updated: 2015-03-03Bibliographically approved

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