Putting the perspective of the citizen back into citizen participation research: An interpretive case study about the citizens’ perspective on citizen participation based on heuristics

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Oftentimes, municipalities experience a mismatch between citizen participation on paper and citizen participation in practice, which is why this case study in the municipality of Mook and Middelaar focuses on the perspective of the citizen. It combines semi-structured interviews with the heuristic of grounded theory. Inspired by Cultural Theory, four different perspectives on citizen participation were distinguished: egalitarian citizens participate because they find it important; individualistic citizens participate only if that benefits them personally; hierarchist citizens will always participate, but do not understand why; and fatalistic citizens do not want to participate at all. Seven aspects of the citizen participation process were mentioned in every perspective: the definition of citizen participation, outsourcing participation, how to participate, information provision and communication, processing citizen input, trust, and organizational changes. Although citizens’ thoughts on how to incorporate these aspects into a citizen participation policy differ between the perspectives, and although these aspects may be different in other cases, there is an underlying (iterative) process with similar components for every perspective: the citizens’ perspective on citizen participation and their willingness to participate depends on the level of trust and on experiences derived from earlier experiences, and can only change after a new experience.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen