Omer Husain is a research fellow at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. He was appointed at the MSCAction INT SUSPLACE research project Place-based policies and pathways from April 1, 2016, till March 31, 2019.
Abstract This article introduces the concept of ‘place-based civic tech’ — citizen engagement technology codesigned by local government, civil society and global volunteers. It investigates to what extent creating such a digital space for autonomous self-organization allows for the emergence of a parallel, self-determining and more place-based geography of politics and political action. It finds that combining online tools with offline collaborative practices presents a unique opportunity for decentralization of power and decision-making in a manner which both politically motivates civil society and begins to update the infrastructure of democracy. The discussion is supported by a combination of primary and secondary data, with research methods including ethnographic and participatory observation techniques. Research data is drawn from a range of empirical sources, including an in-depth case study of the radical municipalist movement in Spain. The article concludes that there is a clear and compelling narrative of cities taking power back, in the form of a plural and globally networked movement. As such, this study contributes to both the theory and practice of civic tech, collective impact, municipalism and place-based urban politics while emphasizing the need for further research on experiments and movements currently existing below the academic radar.
Keywords: civic tech; decentralization; open source; place-based; democracy; political action; municipalism;
radical; collaborative; participatory; Madrid.
Reference: Syed Omer Husain, Alex Franklin and Dirk Roep (2019), Decentralising geographies of political action: civic tech and place-based municipalism, Journal of Peer Production, Issue 13, 1-22.