Citizenship in a Connected Canada
in Dubois, E. and Martin-Bariteau, F. (eds.), Citizenship in a Connected Canada: A Research and Policy Agenda, Ottawa, ON: University of Ottawa Press (2020)
24 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2020 Last revised: 3 Nov 2020
Date Written: June 5, 2020
Citizenship has become digital.
In 2020, all experiences and expressions of civic and political life in Canada are impacted by digital technologies in some way. Whether you use a mobile app to find out when your city bus is coming, you listen to a news podcast, log into your online banking profile, order furniture or food, or connect with co-workers, friends and family, most people’s lives are necessarily digital to some degree. Even for those who choose not to use digital technologies in their daily lives and for those who do not have the needed access, resources or skills to make use of these tools, governments and other institutions make use of digital technologies in ways that impact everyone. For example, even unconnected citizens are impacted by automated decision-making in government — from benefit assessment to the justice system — and for corporate actors — from financial offers to traffic management.
We could argue that citizenship has been digital for decades. Yet, many different actors in society struggle to keep up with shifting the ways in which individuals might enact their citizenship, the impacts of increased use of digital tools, and questions about what is technically possible and ethically advisable. This collection outlines some of the ways in which civil society, governments, and legal systems are being challenged, by an evolving digital context, to rethink their relationships with citizens. Informed by academic literature and empirical research, this collection of policy-focused essays puts forward a research and policy agenda providing recommendations for next steps both within and outside of academia. The aim is to help various actors develop better policies, tools, and research. In order to do so, we need to understand how individuals enact their citizenship. Reflection on the uses of technology by citizens, and their preferences about how technologies and digital data could or should be used, is important for developing relevant responses in a digital context. While the digital context is not entirely new, it is sometimes overlooked.
This edited collection continues a unique conversation which stemmed from the “Connected Canada” initiative, launched in 2017, which embraces the ethos of this multi-stakeholder approach. We bring together scholars, activists, policy-makers, and businesses to build consensus around what a connected society means for Canada. Ultimately, we aim to better understand both what it means to be a citizen in Canada in a digital context as well as the implications of such citizenship on policy making in a digital context. Our aim in this collection is to extend and expand upon the research agenda we previously outlined in the Canadians in a Digital Context report (Dubois & Martin-Bariteau, 2018).
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