Citizens’ Participation and Gamification – Lessons Learnt from Previous and Recent Participation Boosts in Germany

Kai Masser, Linda Mory

Résumé

[Extract] A year ago, a newspaper article critiqued the citizen participation plans of two major German cities (FAZ, 19.02.2015). Its critique involved the following major conclusions: Damage of social capital. Opposing positions appear to be irreconcilable. Decisions are leaving deep wounds because of aggressive campaigns and non-objective discussions; Limited legitimacy of decisions because of low participation rates that include only special social groups. Minorities are dominating the majority of the people; Many present-day citizen groups consist of resentful people who only accept their own opinion; Elected representative bodies like the city council are disempowered

The article gives a focused summary of recent discussions regarding citizen participation in Germany. The advocates of direct democracy and citizen participation are using the same arguments, but achieving opposite results. Greater involvement of all parts of society could be achieved and problems could be solved in a more objective oriented manner (by deliberative mechanisms). Who is right and who is wrong?

The first paragraph of this paper deals with this issue. The second paragraph analyzes, how “gamification” can help overcome the “participation dilemma”.

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