From Civic Tech to Civic Capacity: The Case of Citizen Audits
Perspectives on Politics, Forthcoming
7 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2016 Last revised: 22 Jun 2017
Date Written: January 1, 2017
This paper identifies and theorizes an important mode of participatory governance: citizen audits -- the organized, strategic use of participatory monitoring techniques to hold government actors accountable. Citizen audits offer a unique mechanism for generating political accountability and redressing disparities of capture, corruption, or power. Citizen audits achieve this by catalyzing the mobilization and organization of civil society actors. By combining this mobilization with policy-relevant data-gathering, citizen audits generate pressure and influence on policymakers. Citizen audits are thus, crucially, not about a utopian or idealistic appeal of civic engagement; rather they are realistic and urgent responses to fundamental failures of governance and disparities of political power. As this paper will argue, citizen audits represent a mode of participation that is importantly distinct from two of the prevailing discourses in present-day debates about democracy, civic engagement, and governance reform.
Keywords: participation, accountability, governance, civic tech, development, regulation
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