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De duurzaamheid van burgerinitiatieven

Een empirische verkenning

Tijdschrift Bestuurs­wetenschappen, Aflevering 3 2015
Auteurs Malika Igalla BSc en Dr. Ingmar van Meerkerk
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Citizens’ initiatives are the focus of public attention as part of the popular ‘do-democracy’ (associative democracy). However, it is not clear to what extent citizens are able to shape self-organization in a sustainable manner, what the important factors in this respect are and if citizens’ initiatives are the sole preserve of a better educated group of citizens. Through a secondary quantitative analysis of 56 citizens’ initiatives, this article offers an empirical contribution to answering these questions. The authors explore the effects of three possible factors on the sustainability of citizens’ initiatives: the network structure of the citizens’ initiative, the organizational design of the initiative and the revenue model. They show significant relationships between the organizational design of citizens’ initiatives and their sustainability. They also show a relationship between the network structure of these initiatives and their sustainability: initiatives that develop into a fully connected network or a polycentric network are more sustainable than initiatives with a star network. The personal characteristics of the initiators show a dispersal in age, descent, gender and retirement. Relatively speaking, many initiators have a high level of education: 80% has a higher professional or university education. But there are no significant relations between these personal characteristics and the sustainability of citizens’ initiatives.


Malika Igalla BSc
M. Igalla BSc rondde in 2014 cum laude de bacheloropleiding bestuurskunde af aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. Ze is nu bezig aan haar masteropleiding Bestuurskunde: Beleid en Politiek.

Dr. Ingmar van Meerkerk
Dr. I.F. van Meerkerk is postdoctoraal onderzoeker bij het departement Bestuurskunde van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam en doet onderzoek naar institutionele verankering en management van burgerinitiatieven op het terrein van stedelijke gebiedsontwikkeling.

    Modern government has high expectations of active citizen participation. Sociologists however, expect that this emphasis on citizen participation leads to new inequalities between city neighbourhoods. In ‘better’ neighbourhoods relatively more inhabitants are higher educated and indigenous, categories that are traditionally more active in society. In vulnerable neighbourhoods on the other hand many of the inhabitants are non-indigenous, lower educated and unemployed, who – as is shown in research – participate less. Citizen initiatives therefore would prosper in neighbourhoods with resilient and competent citizens and a powerful social fabric, while inhabitants of the vulnerable neighbourhoods would participate less, although there is more need for active citizen participation, because of their problems. This study analyses active citizen participation in two neighbourhoods in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, ‘Schiemond’ and ‘Lloydkwartier’, a typical backward neighbourhood versus a typical neighbourhood for young urban professionals (‘yuppen’). In contrast with the expectations the inhabitants of Schiemond do not appear to participate less than the inhabitants of Lloydkwartier. Concerning matters of neighbourhood safety even more respondents participate in Schiemond than in Lloydkwartier. Possible reasons are: (a) that lower educated people do participate more often in informal neighbourhood initiatives; (b) that because of the average longer residency in Schiemond there is a greater amount of public familiarity in this neighbourhood; or (c) that because of the bigger problems in Schiemond there is a greater necessity for inhabitants to become active themselves.


Dr. Erik Snel
Dr. E. Snel is universitair docent bij de vakgroep sociologie van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Kim Hoogmoed MSc
K. Hoogmoed MSc is in 2013 afgestudeerd in de sociologie aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. Ze is momenteel medewerker van het examenbureau van de Universiteit Utrecht.

Dr. Arend Odé
Dr. A. Odé is manager onderzoek en advies bij Regioplan Beleidsonderzoek in Amsterdam. Hij is in 1996 gepromoveerd aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam bij het Tinbergen Instituut.
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