Citizen activism and the democratisation of technologies for democracy

A new article by Adrian Smith and Pedro Prieto Martín analyses the activist development of digital platforms for direct democracy in Madrid and Barcelona. Going Beyond the Smart City? Implementing Technopolitical Platforms for Urban Democracy in Madrid and Barcelona follows the development of digital tools for citizen deliberation and direct democracy developed by ‘technopolitical’ activists in the 15-M movements in Spain from 2011, and how those developments were shaped by their entry into public administration in Madrid and Barcelona after the election into power of movement parties in those cities. The abstract states:

“Digital platforms for urban democracy are analyzed in Madrid and Barcelona. These platforms permit citizens to debate urban issues with other citizens; to propose developments, plans, and policies for city authorities; and to influence how city budgets are spent. Contrasting with neoliberal assumptions about Smart Citizenship, the technopolitics discourse underpinning these developments recognizes that the technologies facilitating participation have themselves to be developed democratically. That is, technopolitical platforms are built and operate as open, commons-based processes for learning, reflection, and adaptation. These features prove vital to platform implementation consistent with aspirations for citizen engagement and activism.”

The article is open access and available here.

A shorter blogpost version is available on The Loop blog of the European Consortium for Political Research, here.