Journal article

ICT, open government and civil society

14 Jul 2015


This paper explores the rise of ICTs as instruments of government reform and the implication of their use from the vantage point of the relations between democratic governance, the aims of Buen Vivir, and the role of civil society. We discuss some of the contradictions inherent in the nature and organisation of ICTs, particularly in connection to such e-government projects as “smart cities” and participatory budgeting, and focus on the centrality of social relationships, political agency and the operations of social capital as elements that determine the success of these initiatives in the promotion of democratic practice. We also examine the relevance of social capital and user control to organisational structure and the ways in which structure relates to social innovation and the access, transfer and diffusion of knowledge as a common good. The paper concludes with a discussion of the significance of ICTs as instruments of civil empowerment and introduces the notion of “generative democracy” as a means of re-imagining and realigning the role and powers of the state and civil society for the social production of goods and services.

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