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Artikel

Burgers als trustees

Participatie, informele vertegenwoordiging en representativiteit

Tijdschrift Beleid en Maatschappij, Aflevering 1 2013
Auteurs Dr. Bas van Stokkom, Dr. Marcel Becker en Teun Eikenaar MA MSc
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The involvement of citizens in discussions about policy arrangements has been growing in the past decades. These forums of decision-making often provoke criticism because of a so-called ‘lack of representativeness’. Often a small group of active citizens takes the lead and decides which problems have to be dealt with. Some active residents primarily focus on improving the neighbourhood, regardless of whether their activities have everyone’s consent. This raises many questions related their representativeness. Do these participants form an adequate cross-section of the population? Are they speaking on behalf of others? Maybe passive citizens feel fine with the opinions of active citizens and agree that a small group of citizens is taking the lead. In this paper these active citizens are viewed as ‘trustees’: informal representatives who take responsibility to look after the neighbourhood’s interests, expecting that passive residents would support their efforts. The paper has two central questions: First, which ideas do active participants have about representation and representativeness? Second, in what respects can active citizens be characterized as ‘trustees’? In the theoretical part we contend that the notion ‘trustee’ may function as a theoretical framework to understand present-day citizen participation. In local policy networks many informal representatives express views and interests that are recognizable for many citizens. They are trusted, as long as their activities can be checked. The second part of the paper focuses on three projects of citizen decision-making within local safety policies (The Dutch cities Amsterdam, Deventer and Rotterdam). Within these projects, participants prioritize what kinds of activities and interventions police officers and other frontline workers should carry out. A main finding is that many active citizens function as contact persons who are continuously available for other residents. They do not wish to speak ‘on behalf’ of others but they are bestowed – often reluctantly – with the role of representative, as they demonstratively express neighborhood interests (‘clean, intact and safe’). Their reputation seems to be decisive.


Dr. Bas van Stokkom
Dr. Bas van Stokkom is medewerker bestuurswetenschappen aan de faculteit Sociale Wetenschappen aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, b.a.m.van.stokkom@vu.nl.

Dr. Marcel Becker
Dr. Marcel Becker is universitair docent ethiek aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, M.Becker@ftr.ru.nl.

Teun Eikenaar MA MSc
Teun Eikenaar MA MSc is onderzoeker aan het criminologisch instituut van de faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid van de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, t.eikenaar@jur.ru.nl.
Artikel

Bewonersinitiatieven: partnerschap tussen burgers en overheid

Tijdschrift Beleid en Maatschappij, Aflevering 4 2011
Trefwoorden citizen’s initiatives, activation policy, representativeness, partnership relation, competences
Auteurs Dr. Imrat Verhoeven en Prof. dr. Evelien Tonkens
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In recent years the Dutch welfare state has invested substantial sums of money in activation of citizen’s initiatives in deprived neighbourhoods. As a policy concept citizen’s initiatives refers to enhancements by citizens to the quality of life in their neighbourhood. Is this activation policy productive or counterproductive for citizen participation? This question is answered by analyzing the representativeness of the activated citizens, the nature of their initiatives, the type of relations they develop with institutions, and whether they develop more competences due to their initiative(s). Our findings indicate that the activated citizens are more often female, below 50, lower educated, and 40 percent is migrant, which makes them more representative than the participation elite (male, 50+, white, and higher educated). They form a new vanguard that activates many participants through initiatives that focus on connecting people and on social problems such as anonymity, isolation and nuisance. Many contacts with professionals contribute for them to a partnership relation geared toward cooperation instead of consumerism or dissatisfaction. Also these citizens develop democratic, bureaucratic and social competences as well as social reflexivity and empathy for other citizens and institutions. We conclude that activation of citizen’s initiatives has positive effects on citizen participation.


Dr. Imrat Verhoeven
Imrat Verhoeven is postdoc onderzoeker aan de afdeling Sociologie en Antropologie, Universiteit van Amsterdam/AISSR. Correspondentiegegevens: Dr. I. Verhoeven, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, 1012 DK Amsterdam, i.verhoeven@uva.nl.

Prof. dr. Evelien Tonkens
Evelien Tonkens is hoogleraar actief burgerschap aan de afdeling Sociologie en Antropologie, Universiteit van Amsterdam/AISSR. Correspondentiegegevens: Prof. dr. E. Tonkens, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, 1012 DK Amsterdam, e.h.tonkens@uva.nl.
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