Three Provocations for Civic Crowdfunding
Information, Communication and Society, 18 (3)
18 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2015
Date Written: August 31, 2014
The rapid rise of crowdfunding in the past five years, most prominently among US-based platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, has begun to attract the attention of a wide range of scholars, policymakers and practitioners. This paper considers civic crowdfunding — the use of crowdfunding for projects that produce community or quasipublic assets — and argues that its emergence demands a fresh set of questions and approaches. The work draws on critical case studies constructed through fieldwork in the US, the UK and Brazil, and a discourse analysis of civic crowdfunding projects collected from platforms by the author. It offers three provocations to scholars and practitioners considering the practice, questioning the extent to which civic crowdfunding is participatory, the extent to which it addresses or contributes to social inequality, and the extent to which it augments or weakens the role of public institutions. In doing so, it finds that civic crowdfunding is capable of vastly divergent outcomes, and argues that the extent to which civic crowdfunding produces outcomes that are beneficial, rather than harmful to the public sphere, will be determined by the extent to which the full range of stakeholders in civic life participate in the practice.
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Keywords: civic crowdfunding, crowdfunding, ethics
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