Demossibility’ and the design of democratic institutions: How to place citizens at the heart of the political system

Democracy, a very successful form of governance in the 20th century, at the turn of the 21st century is traumatized. Among the most established democracies, people express concerns about democracy and the confidence on democratic institutions is shaken. Within this context of democratic backsliding and distrust, this paper argues that the design of democratic institutions is crucial to reverse the distrust on democracies. But there is need for institutions that will activate people’s participation and make democratic institutions more accessible. This paper explores how a novel rethinking of the rights and duties of citizens can shed new light into democratic participation and enhance the trust of citizens in political institutions.

From Sacred to Instrumental: The Changing Meaning of Citizenship

In recent years, scholars have argued that citizenship in Western countries is becoming an instrumental resource, even a commodity.Those arguments mostly draw on a relatively narrow set of empirical cases, focusing on outsiders who seek admission into citizenship. Moreover, there is no systematic theory that explains the relationship between rules of admission and the emotional meaning of citizenship. This paper expands the empirical and theoretical scope of this literature by examining the effect of citizenship transformations on individuals who are already citizens of a country and their changing relation to the state. It focuses on 3 areas of change: 1) diminishing weight of citizen duties, reflected mostly in the elimination of conscription; 2) growing toleration of multiple citizenship; 3) growing diversity in terms of ethnicity and place of residence.I will discuss the potential implications of these developments while drawing on insights from psychology and economic sociology.

Citizen-centrism in Smart Cities and Democratic Participation

A number of smart city projects claim to be ‘citizen-centric’, they aim to use technological innovation to foster citizen engagement and participation. However, it is unclear who is included and excluded from the concept of citizenship. A non-legal definition includes residents, commuters or tourists. However, the legal status of citizen is defined in relation to a state and a national government, not a local community. Interestingly, in Ancient Greece, citizenship was defined by reference to the city and shaped in terms of local participation. This paper explores the mismatch between the way citizen participation is framed legally and the way it is framed technologically in smart cities. It does so by drawing on the historical meaning of citizenship, exploring the goals of smart cities and citizen participation, and the problem of exclusionary effects stemming from technological biases, as well as the possibility of ‘opting out’ of the smart city.