UNRAVELING CITIZEN ENGAGEMENT BY STUDYING MUNICIPAL PRACTICES
Citizen engagement can take various forms and is receiving a great deal of interest, especially in municipalities, which are embracing citizen engagement and searching for ways to integrate it in their day to day work. In theory development, the concept of citizen engagement is captured with various terms covering numerous aspects. This leads to inconsistency and ambiguity and can lead to unproductive debates among those who organize it. Empirical research on how municipalities develop citizen engagement is still limited. This article aims at a deeper understanding of the phenomenon by exploring dominant patterns in the way municipalities organize citizen engagement, the role of those involved and practices that emerge. This article builds on empirical research in 4 Dutch municipalities, 1 Danish municipality and 1 South African municipality. It appears that in practice, citizen engagement comes with a complex dynamic. Organizing citizen engagement affects the entire municipality and can be seen as an intervention in the municipal organization and those involved.
Key words: citizen engagement, municipalities, local practices.
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