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Designing in between local government and the public - using institutional analysis in interventions on civic infrastructures

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sebastian Weise



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Adapting and changing the systems and technologies involved in civic engagement with local government is among the key challenges of collaborative technologies for political participation. In such contexts, both existing sets of technologies and ingrained, often formalised practices, the ‘rules of the game’ constrain any opportunity for intervention. Additionally, ‘civic’ and expert groups with conflicting agendas and divergent demands on public choices assert their influence in these transformation programmes. The article argues that established methods in collaborative systems design have thus far overlooked the role of recurring actions involved in public participation as well as the formal rules and ingrained practices that construct them. Yet, such patterns present a valuable resource for design interventions. Thus, based on an institutional approach, the article outlines a methodology for requirement-gathering by mapping the relations of actors, software, and their use along identifiable action situations. The method called for a dialogue between socio-technical-spatial contexts of public service and specific actions taking place within it. Drawing on a case of organising civic engagement in urban planning, the article discusses how to find and trace existing practices across social settings, information technologies, and material contexts where engagements take place. The approach underscores the existing institutional contexts in inspiring, opening, and constraining the opportunities to support ‘civics’.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Weise S, Coulton P, Chiasson M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

Year: 2017

Volume: 26

Issue: 4-6

Pages: 927-958

Print publication date: 01/12/2017

Online publication date: 27/05/2017

Acceptance date: 10/04/2017

Date deposited: 31/05/2017

ISSN (print): 0925-9724

ISSN (electronic): 1573-7551

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s10606-017-9277-x


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