Online participation on the local level – a comparative perspective
The first international conference “Online participation on the local level – a comparative perspective” took place from 13th to 15th December 2017 in Düsseldorf/Germany at the Haus der Universität. The conference was jointly organized by the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy (DIID) and the NRW Fortschrittskolleg Online Participation both located at the University of Düsseldorf.
The conference brought together an international group of researchers from different disciplines to provide a variety of perspectives on local online participation. About 70 participants from Brazil, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Russia, Tunisia and the United States attended 14 talks presented by seven female and seven male speakers on the topic of local online participation. The program included several case studies from different countries as well as empirical studies on actors in the field of online participation and critical reflections on e-participation research in general.
The main aim of the conference was to investigate the role of digital technologies in political participation with a focus on the local level, ranging from small neighborhoods to large municipalities. This encompasses both top-down as well as bottom-up e-participation initiatives (i.e. invited as well as invented spaces). Questions of interest included, but were not limited to:
- How do the results of online participation compare with the outcomes of classic forms of participation?
- How to combine online and offline forms of participation?
- What effects are specific to particular participation formats and how do they compare to each other?
- How do institutions and their members (need to) change when adapting to digital forms of participation?
- How does the context of a particular country shape the role of local e-participation?
The conference started with a public event on Wednesday (5pm to 8pm) and was followed by two days of talks by invited speakers and discussions within six panels. Each 90 minutes-panel provided plenty of time for two presentations and extensive discussion. The 20-25 minutes’ talks were followed by a 20 minutes’ discussion. Coffee breaks between the panels and the conference dinner which took place Thursday night provided space for further discussion and networking between participants.