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A Critical Look at Citizen Participation Processes in Knowledge-Based Societies within the Framework of Representative (Parliamentary) Democracies

Author

Listed:
  • Stella van Rijn

    (Nyenrode Business University, The Netherlands)

  • René Tissen

    (Nyenrode Business University, The Netherlands)

Abstract

The great complexity of problems that modern local, regional and national governments are faced with in the current knowledge intensive context of open societies in a globalized world, force these governments to become more creative in designing and implementing effective policy solutions in which creative citizens actively contribute toward the proper functioning of society and societal change. We live in an ‘enlightened’ era in which societies function as ‘knowledge democracies’ but without adequate mechanisms to address complex and often far reaching challenges in the field of citizen participation. It is clear that the overall structure and guiding principles and processes of traditional representative democracies offer limited options for active and successful citizen participation. To close the democratic gap in traditional representative structures, many governments have sought participation in top down processes resulting in temporary representational structures for citizen participation. Other initiatives such as deliberative structures focus on participation in decisionmaking processes. The knowledge democracy dominated by the creative class however, does not require top down and incidental, but bottom up and continuous involvement that interplays with the reality of constant change of the knowledge society and the individualism of the creative class. An analysis based on organizational change theory of the top down ‘vision/decision making perspective’ with the bottom up ‘knowledge/participation perspective’ shows substantial differences in governance context, structure and process approach, indicating that a transitional change is currently taking place, however not the transformative change that is required in the knowledge democracy.

Suggested Citation

  • Stella van Rijn & René Tissen, 2013. "A Critical Look at Citizen Participation Processes in Knowledge-Based Societies within the Framework of Representative (Parliamentary) Democracies," Active Citizenship by Knowledge Management & Innovation: Proceedings of the Management, Knowledge and Learning International Conference 2013, ToKnowPress.
  • Handle: RePEc:tkp:mklp13:685-692
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