PANEL 15: THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY AND CITIZEN ENGAGEMENTS

Seminar Room 2, 15:00- 16:30
Chair: Morgan Burgess

 

Enhancing Legitimacy through Co-design and Deliberative Engagements
Nicole Moore,PhD Candidate, University of Canberra

The paper aims to assess the legitimacy of processes that involve citizens in public decision making. The paper acknowledges that citizen engagements can enhance the legitimacy of decision making, but only when citizens are able to contribute equally or at least to be fairly represented. Uniquely, this research integrates expertise from two distinct approaches to citizen engagement, co-design and deliberative engagements. Combined, both approaches offer significant insights into critical variables that must be in place to achieve effective citizen engagement. A systematic review of co-design and deliberative engagement cases and theory has been undertaken to develop a conceptual model for assessing the legitimacy of engagements. The conceptual model draws on 33 case studies and 36 theoretical studies to identify six key variables that interact to influence outcomes in co-design and deliberative engagement. These include: 1) inclusive representation; 2) autonomy and equality of all participants; 3) plurality of viewpoints and engagement methods; 4) quality of process design and facilitation; 5) transmission of citizen generated recommendations, and 7) citizen participation as a democratic value. In addition, the conceptual model identifies three outcome related measures for assessing the impact of each of these variables on the legitimacy of public decisions. These include: 1) Participants agreeing on the solutions or recommendations, 2) Participants trusting in the legitimacy of the process to influence decision making, and 3) Consequentiality defined as decision makers accepting citizen generated recommendations. Collectively, the variables and outcome measures form an evidence based conceptual model for assessing the quality and impact of citizen engagement processes, supporting public sector capability, political accountability, and ultimately the legitimacy of public sector decisions.

Nicole Moore is an Honorary Fellow and a PhD Candidate at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra. Nicole is also the 2019 (inaugural) ACT Legislative Assembly Library Fellow and has held numerous public sector roles in almost a decade of service. In 2013, Nicole was awarded a Public Service Excellence Award for the promotion, co-design and co-production of services with vulnerable families in the ACT. Nicole’s research is focused on improving public sector capability in engaging citizens in decision making, with a particular focus on co-design and deliberative engagements.

 


 

Meme weaponization in the Philippines during the 2016 Philippine election
Noahlyn Maranan, PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales, Canberra

Image memes fielded out by discursive publics have been increasingly seen in social media platforms across the world. This is also evident in 2016 during the candidacy of Bongbong Marcos in the vice-presidential position. Using library packages in R (e.g. SocialMediaLab), participating discursive publics (Facebook pages) were identified in 2016/2017. From this list of discursive publics, images were extracted in 2017/2018 using within-Facebook application developed by Bernard Rieder. Zeroing in on the images that fall within the study’s inclusion/exclusion criteria, a multimodal discursive analysis is done. From which, it has been found that various memory work seeking to influence public opinion in the techno-discursive space of social media have been ‘injected’ by contending publics in image memes. Whether or not this helps strengthen democracy or not is also examined in the light of current literature on post-truth politics, computational propaganda and networked public sphere.

Noahlyn Marananis a PhD Candidate from UNSW Canberra.  She is also a faculty member (on leave) from the Department of Social Sciences in the University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines. Her research interests include the democratic contestation in the social media surrounding the 2016 Philippine election.

 


 

The Culpable Youth? An Age, Period and Cohort Analysis of Youth (Dis)Engagement in Advanced Democracies
Intifar Chowdhury, PhD candidate, Australian National University

Despite the rise in education levels, younger cohorts in advanced, liberal societies are seemingly turning away from democracy.  The future electorate’s political withdrawal may be a sign for the crisis of democracy. It is, however, still unclear whether young people are rejecting fundamental democratic values (e.g. rule of law, equal rights) or whether their apathy reflects disapproval of how their democratic government works. Addressing this debate and using the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) dataset, I investigate whether young people are turning away from liberal principles of democracy or from its procedures in 35 OECD countries. The analysis estimates a cross-sectional hierarchical random effects model to isolate the highly collinear time effects- age, period and cohort (APC). The findings suggest that younger cohorts are disengaging from the traditional processes of voting and aligning with a political party as a result of the poor performance of their democracies; yet, their endorsement of democratic principles remain stable. This is consistent with generational theories: younger cohorts with higher cognitive resources (such as education), political sophistication and emancipatory values are shunning elite-directed, traditional modes of participation. Further, they rely less on partisan cues to guide their democratic decisions. Noteworthily, university education emerges as a crucial factor as it uniquely and consistently promotes pro-democratic attitudes and behaviours, irrespective of generational membership. Since young people still largely support democratic ideals, it would be too hasty a conclusion to hold them responsible for heralding a crisis of democracy.

Intifar Chowdhury started her PhD at the ANU School of Politics and International Relations in February 2019. Her thesis focuses on young people and their aversion towards democracy. It constitutes a quantitative inquiry on advanced democracies using survey data from comparative databases and aims to highlight the factors which are influencing young people to turn against liberal democracy. Prior to this, Intifar obtained a double degree in Genetics and International Relations at the ANU. Her wider interests include youth behaviour in politics, women in the executive, the politics of genetic testing and the psychological impacts of hereditary diseases and genetic counseling.

 


 

Urbanisation and Democratic Consolidation in South Asia
Medha Majumdar, PhD Candidate, Australian National University

Socioeconomic development has long been considered essential to achieving democratic consolidation by modernisation theorists. However, the relationship between urbanisation and democracy is understudied when compared to other indicators of socioeconomic development, such as income, literacy and industrialisation. This paper reconsiders the relationship between urbanisation and democratic consolidation in South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In contrast to modernisation theory, it argues that urbanisation has not strengthened democratic values or consolidated democracy in South Asia. While South Asia is undergoing a process of urbanisation which is leading to massive shifts in the population distribution of the region, much of the urbanisation which has occurred is ‘hidden and messy’. Without effective governance and public infrastructure to support the growing population, urbanisation has perpetuated urban poverty and the existence of slums. This negatively impacts citizens’ perceptions of the political system and their attitudes towards democracy.

Analysing the South Asia Barometer Survey using logistic regression and ordered logistic regression, this paper finds that urbanisation has not supported democratic values in South Asia. Firstly, living in an urban area, such as a town or city, decreases the likelihood of being satisfied with democracy. Secondly, living in an urban centre has no effect upon a citizens’ level of political engagement. The findings of this study help to better understand the relationship between urbanisation and democratic consolidation. Yet, it also draws into question the future of democracy in South Asia, given the rapid rate of urbanisation the region is experiencing.

Medha Majumdar is a PhD candidate in the School of Politics and International Relations, The Australian National University (ANU), and Westpac Future Leaders Scholar 2019. Her research focusses on economic modernisation and democratic backsliding in South Asia.

 


 

Is Beneficiary Engagement a matter of project management? A review of government and NGO practices in the development context of Bangladesh
Nandita Dutta, PhD Candidate, University of Canberra

Projects form an essential component of development planning and its implementation in the context of Bangladesh. Projects are the institutional base for management of development assistance, implementation of development programs and involving beneficiaries in implementing project components. Both government including local government institutions (GO) and non-government organizations (NGOs) in Bangladesh are responsible for implementing development programs through projects. It is expected that these organizations should work closely with project beneficiaries and local communities so that people are informed of project benefits and can provide support to continue these benefits when a project is over. Based on a comprehensive study of relevant literature, policy documents and analysis of data from qualitative interviews held in Bangladesh, this paper seeks to identify how GO and NGOs respond to beneficiary engagement in managing development projects. The study revealed that engaging beneficiaries is a project focused activity which makes engagement easy though practices vary in different project contexts and types. In presenting the findings, this paper is divided into three sections. The first section provides a review of literature to examine the scope of beneficiary engagement in managing development projects. The second part of the paper analyses data identified in relation to beneficiary engagement within GO and NGO project management contexts. The final section provides findings on how beneficiaries perceive their involvement in the GO-NGO contexts of development projects. The paper concludes with the findings that it requires going beyond usual project management which both GO and NGOs need to address in engaging project beneficiaries.

Nandita Dutta started her career as a civil servant in Bangladesh Government in 1995. She had served the Government of Bangladesh in various capacities in the field administration, and Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre. She joined United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Bangladesh country office in 2005 as a Program Analyst in the governance cluster. In her UNDP role until 2012, she managed various governance projects in the area of electoral reform, public administration, local justice, and indigenous communities. She obtained a number of professional development qualifications that include PRINCE2 Foundation Project Management Certificate, Results Based Management, and Project Management.