20201208

REPORT. Catalan Participation Lab Network. Public facilities and social innovation

When working with the idea of the citizen participation ecosystem from the point of view of a national government, one of the basic questions is how the Administration should nurture and facilitate such ecosystem. There are, at least, two approaches that have been traditionally explored.

  • On the one hand, the Administration can fund the creation or growth of a body of professionals that can contribute to deploy a number of citizen participation initiatives all over a given territory. These professionals can work at the higher level of the Administration or can be distributed or scattered on lower levels of the Administration (i.e. local administrations), but the result is to be able to cover most necessities with a good amount of trained and dedicated professionals.
  • On the other hand, and sometimes compatible with the former approach, the Administration can fund the creation or growth of a constellation of facilities that would run initiatives specifically devoted to the promotion of citizen participation. They can have many names depending on their particular focus or especialization: citizen labs, living labs, social innovation labs, fabrication labs (fab labs), maker spaces, etc.

The problem with these approaches is, at least, double:

  • They are not very economically sustainable, as they require and maintaining groups of people and networks of facilities with a single purpose and which can very difficult be replicated or scaled outside of their specific area of intervention. Of course this is a goal worth aiming at, but for starters it makes the investment very demanding.
  • They are not very socially sustainable, as they divert the attention and focus of the citizen, which now has new places to go, which can be good, but also bad: people have a limited capability to gather at and to focus their attention on.

Another approach is to leverage the fact that there are already public facilities on place and that people are already using them and gathering around them. Thus, instead of creating a new network of people and facilities in addition to the existing ones, another approach could be creating a new network of people and facilities upon the existing ones, or in other words, overlapping new goals and uses with the already existing ones.

The Catalan ParticipaLab Network aims at just that. We borrowed the name from the successful ParticipaLab initiative of the Medialab-Prado in Madrid (Spain) but with the idea not to create a new big facility, not even a network of small facilities, but to weave a network of citizen labs by providing a portfolio of new content and services to the already existing networks. The logic behind it is to follow Artur Serra’s ideas on citizen labs, who proposes thinking of citizen labs as we do in public health systems: there is a large network of primary health care you go to when you feel sick, a second network of regional hospitals you are sent to if things get complicated, and national network of top-level hospitals you are sent to when the situation becomes really bad. Same would apply to citizen participation and social innovation.

With that logic in mind, big top-level citizen labs would be the top-level hospitals of democratic innovation; regional networks of living labs or fab labs or maker spaces would be the regional hospitals, and… and already existing public facilities should be able to act as primary democratic innovation points of access for the general population at the local level.

A first approach to this scheme I drafted it at The role of public facilities and civic centres in a citizen participation ecosystem.

After this first scheme, my colleague Yago Bermejo and I (much more him than I, truth be told) developed the main principles, guiding lines and preliminary portfolio for such a network of public facilities devoted to citizen innovation for quality democracy.

The result is the report Xarxa ParticipaLab de Cataluña. Equipamientos ciudadanos e innovación social [Catalan Participation Lab Network. Public facilities and social innovation], which is expected to be the blueprint and roadmap to deploy such a network from the Catalan Government. The report is in Spanish and Catalan and can be downloaded below.

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Documento completo:
Bermejo, Y. & Peña-López, I. (2020). Xarxa ParticipaLab de Cataluña. Equipamientos ciudadanos e innovación social. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
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Document complet:
Bermejo, Y. & Peña-López, I. (2020). Xarxa ParticipaLab de Catalunya. Equipaments ciutadans i innovació social. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.

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20201118

GUIDE. Guide to gender mainstreaming in participatory processes

Although I had been long interested on gender studies, during December 2018 and the first months of 2019 I began to actively search for documents that dealt with the issue of gender (discrimination, inequality, etc.) on citizen participation. I found out that there was quite a lot of literature on gender and democratic institutions, but nothing specifically on gender mainstreaming in participatory processes.

So, at the Directorate General of Citizen Participation and Electoral Processes we decided to do our own research and project on the issue. With the valuable help of Fundació Surt, and after an initial training, we analyzed public procurement, the facilitation of events, the evaluation processes, information and communication protocols, etc. under the light of gender mainstreaming.

The result was triple. First, the aforementioned analysis and evaluation; second, a set of internal protocols to improve our own work; third, a Guide to gender mainstreaming in participatory processes so that anyone in the field of citizen participation can use and apply in their own citizen participation instruments.

The guide has been published in Catalan and English (see below) and the whole project was distinguished by the IOPD with a special mention in their distinction on the “Best Practice in Citizen Participation”, the award given annually by the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy to recognize public policies implemented by local governments.

Below one can download the guide and access the bibliography I personally used on gender planning and evaluation methodologies in relationship with citizen participation.

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English version:
Parés Martín, L., Sola García, M., Pacheco i Canals, J., Rodà Goula, B. & Peña-López, I. (2020). Guide to gender mainstreaming in participatory processes. Guies breus de participació ciutadana, 8. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
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Catalan version:
Parés Martín, L., Sola García, M., Pacheco i Canals, J., Rodà Goula, B. & Peña-López, I. (2020). Guia de transversalitat de gènere en els processos participatius. Guies breus de participació ciutadana, 8. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.

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Agència Catalana de Cooperació al Desenvolupament (2016). Enfocament de gènere i basat en Drets Humans (EGiBDH). Barcelona: ACCD.
Agència Catalana de Cooperació al Desenvolupament (2017). Pràctiques i experiències en el marc de l'enfocament de gènere i basat en Drets Humans (EGiBDH). Barcelona: ACCD.
Ajuntament de Barcelona (2016). Guia de contractació pública social. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona.
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Ajuntament de Barcelona (2019b). Barcelona digital city. Putting technology at the service of people. Barcelona Digital City Plan (2015-2019). Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona.
Ajuntament de Barcelona (2019c). Decidim, la plataforma digital oberta i lliure per la participació i la innovació democràtica. Informe 2016-2019. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona.
Ajuntament de Barcelona (2019d). Guia d'ús no sexista del llenguatge. 10 punts per visibilitzar les dones en el llenguatge. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona.
Ajuntament de Barcelona (2019e). Guia de comunicació inclusiva. Per construir un món més igualitari. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona.
Ajuntament de Barcelona (2019f). Urbanisme i gènere: marxes exploratòries de vida quotidiana. Quaderns metodològics feministes #1. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona.
Alonso Álvarez, A. (2017). Moviment feminista i govern de la ciutat. Metodologia per a la transversalitat participativa. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona.
Amat Garcia, C., Cardona Tamayo, H., Goula Mejón, J. & Saldaña Blasco, D. (2014). Walking India. Equal Saree research from 2010 to 2013. Barcelona: Equal Saree.
Amat Garcia, C., Cardona Tamayo, H., Goula Mejón, J. & Saldaña Blasco, D. (2015). Camina Tamshi. Recomanacions urbanes amb perspectiva de gènere. Barcelona: Equal Saree.
Astelarra Bonomi, J. (Dir.) (2003). Buenas prácticas y auditoría de género: Instrumentos para políticas locales. Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona.
Batalla Edo, E. (Dir.) (2011). Manual per a la incorporació de la perspectiva de gènere a l'àmbit del comerç urbà. Col·lecció Documents de Treball, Sèrie Desenvolupament Econòmic, 13. Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona.
Berbel Sánchez, S. & Geronès i Rovira, M. (2008). “Participació política de les dones”. In Bodelón, E. & Giménez, P. (Coords.), Desenvolupant els drets de les dones: Àmbits d'intervenció de les polítiques de gènere, Capítol 12, 199-231. Col·lecció Estudis, Sèrie Igualtat i Ciutadania, 2. Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona.
Bofill Levi, A. (2008). Guia per al planejament urbanístic i l'ordenació urbanística amb la incorporació de criteris de gènere. Col·lecció Eines 11. Barcelona: Institut Català de les Dones.
Carter, A.J., Croft, A., Lukas, D. & Sandstrom, G.M. (2019). “Women’s visibility in academic seminars: Women ask fewer questions than men”. In PLOS ONE, 14 (2). San Francisco: Public Library of Science.
Ciocoletto, A. & Col·lectiu Punt 6 (2014). Espais per a la vida quotidiana. Auditoria de Qualitat Urbana amb perspectiva de Gènere. Barcelona: Col·lectiu Punt 6.
Col·lectiu Punt 6 (2011). Construyendo entornos seguros desde la perspectiva de género. Col·leccions CiP, Informes número 5, 2011. Barcelona: ICPS.
Col·lectiu Punt 6 (2013). Dones treballant. Guia de reconeixement urbà amb perspectiva de gènere. Barcelona: Col·lectiu Punt 6.
Delatte, M., Guijarro, B., Almirall, J., Llop, N., Adell, H. & Medrano, A. (2018). Anàlisi de la participació de dones en els espais institucionals i socials mixtos de la ciutat de Barcelona. Barcelona: Ajuntament de Barcelona, Liquen Data Lab.
DFID PPA Learning Partnership Gender Group (2015a). A Theory of Change on Gender Equality & Women's and Girls' Empowerment. London: ActionAid UK; Christian Aid.
DFID PPA Learning Partnership Gender Group (2015b). What Works to Achieve Gender Equality and Women's and Girls' Empowerment?. London: ActionAid UK; Christian Aid.
Ecologistas en Acción (2018). Patriarcalitest. Madrid: Ecologistas en Acción.
European Institute for Gender Equality (2016a). Gender Equality in Academia and Research. GEAR tool. Brussels: European Institute for Gender Equality.
European Institute for Gender Equality (2016b). Gender Equality Training. Gender mainstreaming toolkit. Brussels: European Institute for Gender Equality.
European Institute for Gender Equality (2016c). Institutional transformation. Gender mainstreaming toolkit. Brussels: European Institute for Gender Equality.
European Institute for Gender Equality (2017). Gender Impact Assessment. Gender mainstreaming toolkit. Brussels: European Institute for Gender Equality.
European Institute for Gender Equality (2018). Gender equality and youth: opportunities and risks of digitalisation. Brussels: European Institute for Gender Equality.
Galligan, Y. & Clavero, S. (2008). Assessing gender democracy in the European Union. A methodological framework. RECON Online Working Paper 2008/16. Oslo: ARENA.
Galligan, Y. & Clavero, S. (2012). Deliberative Processes and Gender Democracy. Case Studies from Europe. RECON Report No 17. Oslo: ARENA.
Garcia Ramilo, C. & Cinco, C. (2005). Gender Evaluation Methodology for Internet and ICTs. A learning tool for change and empowerment. Melville: Association for Progressive Communications.
Garcia Sànchez, A. (2008). “Polítiques i estratègies d'igualtat en l'àmbit local. L'experiència de l'Ajuntament de Sant Feliu de Llobregat”. In Bodelón, E. & Giménez, P. (Coords.), Construint els drets de les dones: Dels conceptes a les polítiques locals, Capítol 7, 149-165. Col·lecció Estudis, Sèrie Igualtat i Ciutadania, 1. Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona.
Gelambí Torrell, M. (2016). Guia pràctica per a la realització de polítiques transversals de gènere en l'àmbit municipal. Col·lecció Eines, Sèrie Benestar i Ciutadania, 2. Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona.
Generalitat de Catalunya & Institut Català de les Dones (2018). Guia per a la incorporació de la perspectiva de gènere en els contractes públics. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, Institut Català de les Dones.
Generalitat de Catalunya (2017). Model d'informe de diagnosi d'igualtat de dones i homes. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
Generalitat de Catalunya (2018b). Igualtat de dones i homes a empreses i organitzacions. Guia pràctica per diagnosticar-la. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
Gensana Riera, M.À. (2005). Informes d'impacte de gènere. Col·lecció Eines 1. Barcelona: Institut Català de les Dones.
Government of Himachal Pradesh (2009). 10 steps for integrating gender into the policy-making process. Shimla: Government of Himachal Pradesh.
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2017). The Gender Handbook for Humanitarian Action. Geneva: IASC.
Inter-Parliamentary Union (2016). Evaluating the gender sensitivity of parliaments, a self-assessment toolkit. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union.
International Development Research Center (2016). Gender equality in digital development and innovation. Networked Economies’ strategy for improving gender and inclusion outcomes. Ottawa: IDRC.
Kuga Thas, A.M., Garcia Ramilo, C. & Sabanes Plou, D. (2010). Facilitators Guide for GEM Workshops. Melville: Association for Progressive Communications.
Kuga Thas, A.M. & Garcia Ramilo, C. (2010). Gender Analysis for ICT Localisation Initiatives. Melville: Association for Progressive Communications.
Kuga Thas, A.M. (2011). Gender Evaluation for Rural ICT for Development. Melville: Association for Progressive Communications.
Medina Bustos, A., Mompart Penina, A., Rubio Cillán, A., Vergara Garcia, F. & Zaragoza Cosin, S. (2018). Guia per a la introducció de la perspectiva de gènere en la planificació en salut. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
Norris, P. & Krook, L. (2011). Gender Equality in Elected Office: A Six-Step Action Plan. Warsaw: OSCE/ODIHR.
Ortiz Escalante, S. & Gutiérrez Valdivia, B. (2015). “Planning from below: using feminist participatory methods to increase women's participation in urban planning”. In Gender & Development, 23 (1), 113-126. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis.
Pujol Furriols, P. (2007). La participació de les dones en els municipis. Col·lecció Participació Ciutadana, 3. Barcelona: Departament d’Interior, Relacions Institucionals i Participació.
Sabanes Plou, D. (2011). Gender Evaluation for Telecentres. Melville: Association for Progressive Communications.
Sachdeva, N. & Peebles, D. (2010). Gender evaluation final report. Pan Asia networking program. Ottawa: IDRC.
Saldaña Blasco, D., Goula Mejón, J. & Cardona Tamayo, H. (2018a). El pati de l’escola en igualtat. Guia de diagnosi i d’intervenció amb perspectiva de gènere. 2a edició. Santa Coloma de Gramenet: Equal Saree, Ajuntament de Santa Coloma de Gramenet.
Saldaña Blasco, D., Goula Mejón, J. & Cardona Tamayo, H. (2018b). El pati de l’escola en igualtat. Guia de diagnosi i d’intervenció amb perspectiva de gènere. Material de suport. Santa Coloma de Gramenet: Equal Saree, Ajuntament de Santa Coloma de Gramenet.
UN Women (2014). Gender equality capacity assessment tool. New York: UN Women.
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United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2008). Gender in Local Government: A Sourcebook for Trainers. Nairobi: UNHABITAT.
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Xarxa d'Economia Solidària de Catalunya (2017a). Eina d'observació de gènere. Barcelona: XES.
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20201011

BOOK CHAPTER. The ecosystem of public governance: institutions as open infrastructures for collective decision-making

At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis I wrote about the differential impact of crisis in the Information Society based on the first fact that were quickly becoming evident before our eyes and at plain sight.

Shortly after, professors Josep M. Reniu and Víctor Meseguer led a monography on how the COVID-19 crisis was impacting democratic institutions and what to do about it. The book ¿Política confinada? Nuevas tecnologías y toma de decisiones en un contexto de pandemia [Confined politics? New technologies and decision-making in a pandemic context] focuses on how institutions are responding to a pandemic that keeps people at home or away from each other, and how they are figuring out ways of keeping in touch with citizens and keep performing the tasks they have been committed to.

I wrote a book chapter, the second one, with the aim to provide a wide landscape on how democratic institutions and the democratic arena are configuring themselves, and how the pandemic crisis may be an accelerator to it. On El ecosistema de gobernanza pública: las instituciones como infraestructuras abiertas para la toma de decisiones colectivas [The ecosystem of public governance: institutions as open infrastructures for collective decision-making] I take the idea of the citizen participation ecosystem to a higher level, trying to scale it up to the global public governance level.

To do so, I introduce the concept of ecosystems on social sciences, which have been applied with much success —in my opinion— to describe the quick deployment of digital business infrastructures. I describe such ecosystems as knowledge communities and infrastructures that wrok in open and shared ways, aiming at the building of a digital commons. Following, I review the idea of ‘the state as a platform’, ending up with a definition and proposal of the ecosystem of public governance, which I define as:

A public governance ecosystem is a technopolitical, self-organized, autopoietic, replicable and scalable system that articulates actors, spaces and instruments around a set of open and distributed infrastructures rich on knowledge for collective decision-making.

A preprint of the whole chapter (in Spanish) and the bibliography I used can be accessed below.

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Preprint:
Peña-López, I. (2020). “El ecosistema de gobernanza pública: las instituciones como infraestructuras abiertas para la toma de decisiones colectivas”. In Reniu i Vilamala, J.M. & Meseguer, J.V. (Eds.), ¿Política confinada? Nuevas tecnologías y toma de decisiones en un contexto de pandemia, Capítulo 2, 53-71. Cizur Menor: Thompson-Reuters/Aranzadi.

Bibliography

Adner, R. & Kapoor, R. (2010). “Value Creation in Innovation Ecosystems: How the Structure of Technological Interdependence Affects Firm Performance in New Technology Generations”. In Strategic Management Journal, 31 (3), 306-333. Indianapolis: John Wiley and Sons.
Al-Ani, A. (2017). “Government as a Platform: Services, Participation and Policies”. In Kamalipour, Y. & Friedrichsen, M. (Eds.), Digital Transformation in Journalism and News Media: Media Management, Media Convergence and Globalization, Chapter 14, 179-196. Boston: Springer International Publishing.
Atluri, V., Dietz, M. & Henke, N. (2017). “Competing in a world of sectors without borders”. In McKinsey Quarterly, 2017 Number 3, 32-47. New York: McKinsey.
Boley, H. & Chang, E. (2007). “Digital Ecosystems: Principles and Semantics”. In Digital EcoSystems and Technologies Conference, 2007. DEST'07. Inaugural IEEE-IES, 398-403. Washington, DC: IEEE.
Bria, F. (Dir.) (2015). Growing a digital social innovation ecosystem for Europe. DSI final report. Brussels: European Commission.
Calzada Mujika, I. & Almirall, E. (2020). “Data ecosystems for protecting European citizens’ digital rights”. In Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Ahead-of-print. Published online 21 April 2020. Bradford: Emerald.
Carayannis, E.G., Barth, T.D. & Campbell, D.F. (2012). “The Quintuple Helix innovation model: global warming as a challenge and driver for innovation”. In Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 1 (2). Boston: Springer.
Castells, M. (2009). Communication power. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.
Castells, M. (2012). Redes de indignación y esperanza. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.
Ceccagnoli, M., Forman, C., Huang, E. & Wu, D. (2012). “Cocreation of Value in a Platform Ecosystem: The Case of Enterprise Software”. In MIS Quarterly, 36 (1), 263-290. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.
Chesbrough, H.W. (2003). “The Era of Open Innovation”. In MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2003, 35-41. Cambridge: MIT Sloan School of Management.
Dawes, S.S., Vidiasova, L. & Parkhimovich, O. (2016). “Planning and designing open government data programs: An ecosystem approach”. In Government Information Quarterly, 33 (1), 15-27. London: Elsevier.
Dini, P., Darking, M., Rathbone, N., Vidal, M., Hernández, P., Ferronato, P., Briscoe, G. & Hendryx, S. (2005). The Digital Ecosystems Research Vision: 2010 and Beyond. Brussels: European Commission.
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Harrison, T.M., Pardo, T.A. & Cook, M. (2012). “Creating Open Government Ecosystems: A Research and Development Agenda”. In Future Internet, 4 (4), 900-928. Basel: MDPI.
Heimstädt, M., Saunderson, F. & Heath, T. (2014). “Conceptualizing Open Data Ecosystems: A Timeline Analysis of Open Data Development in the UK”. In Parycek, P. & Edelmann, N. (Eds.), CeDEM14. Proceedings of the International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2014, 245-255. 21-23 May 2014, Danube University Krems, Austria. Krems: Edition Donau-Universität Krems.
Iansiti, M. & Levien, R. (2004). “Strategy as Ecology”. In Harvard Business Review, March 1, 2004. Cambridge: Harvard University.
Janowski, T., Pardo, T.A. & Davies, J. (2012). “Government Information Networks – Mapping Electronic Governance cases through Public Administration concepts”. In Government Information Quarterly, 29 (1), S1-S10. London: Elsevier.
Ju, J., Liu, L. & Feng, Y. (2019). “Design of an O2O Citizen Participation Ecosystem for Sustainable Governance”. In Information Systems Frontiers, 21 (3), 605–620. Cham: Springer Nature.
Kurban, C., Peña-López, I. & Haberer, M. (2017). “What is technopolitics? A conceptual scheme for understanding politics in the digital age”. In IDP. Revista de Internet, Derecho y Ciencia Política, 24. Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
Lupiáñez-Villanueva, F., Theben, A., Porcu, F. & Peña-López, I. (2018). Study on the impact of the internet and social media on youth participation and youth work. Brussels: European Commission.
Nachira, F., Nicolai, A., Dini, P., Le Louarn, M. & Rivera León, L. (Eds.) (2007). Digital Business Ecosystems. Brussels: European Commission.
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Peña-López, I. (2011). “Striving behind the shadow – The dawn of Spanish politics 2.0”. In van der Hof, S. & Groothuis, M. (Eds.), Innovating Government. Normative, policy and technological dimensions of modern government, Chapter 8, 129-147. The Hague: TMC Asser Press.
Peña-López, I. (2014a). “Casual politics: del clicktivismo a los movimientos emergentes y el reconocimiento de patrones”. In Cotarelo, R. & Olmeda, J.A. (Eds.), La democracia del siglo XXI. Política, medios de comunicación, internet y redes sociales, Capítulo 10, 211-229. II Jornadas españolas de ciberpolítica, 28 de mayo de 2013. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales.
Peña-López, I. (2014b). “Innovació social oberta: l’organització política com a plataforma”. In Costa i Fernández, L. & Puntí Brun, M. (Eds.), Comunicació pel canvi social. Reflexions i experiències per una comunicació participativa, emancipadora i transparent, 59-75. Girona: Documenta Universitaria.
Peña-López, I. (2018). “Fomento de la participación democrática no formal e informal. De la democracia de masas a las redes de la democracia”. In Laboratorio de Aragón Gobierno Abierto (Ed.), Abrir instituciones desde dentro. Hacking Inside Black Book, Capítulo 11, 113-124. Zaragoza: LAAAB, Gobierno de Aragón.
Peña-López, I. (2019a). Convirtiendo participación en soberanía: el caso de decidim.barcelona. Barcelona: Huygens Editorial.
Peña-López, I. (2019b). “L’Estat com a plataforma: la participació ciutadana per la preservació de l’Estat com a bé comú”. In Nota d'Economia, 105, 193-208. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya.
Peña-López, I. (2020). “El impacto diferencial de las crisis en la Sociedad del Conocimiento”. In Gutiérrez-Rubí, A. & Pont Sorribes, C. (Coords.), Comunicación política en tiempos de coronavirus, Capítulo 25, 142-147. Barcelona: Cátedra Ideograma–UPF de Comunicación Política y Democracia.
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von Hippel, E. (2005). Democratizing Innovation. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Zuiderwijk, A. & Janssen, M. (2013). “Open data policies, their implementation and impact: A framework for comparison”. In Government Information Quarterly, 31 (1), 17-29. London: Elsevier.
Zuiderwijk, A., Janssen, M. & Davis, C. (2014). “Innovation with open data: Essential elements of open data ecosystems”. In Information Polity, 19 (1), 17-33. Amsterdam: IOS Press.

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20200420

BOOK CHAPTER. The differential impact of crisis in the Information Society

The crisis of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is having an unequal impact on people, thus worsening the also unequal impact of globalization and the transition into the Information Society.

It is not only that wealthier and healthier people have more resources to face the crisis, but also that the way society is being reshaped (new relationships of production, experience and power) is also making more evident where we are facing as a society and what is becoming more obsolete. And the coronavirus crisis is especially hitting hard those tasks and institutions becoming obsolete.

But not only.

While two worlds overlap —the aging Industrial Era and the upcoming Information Era— there are also several views overlapping, and casting shadows that distort reality. There are some production sectors that are seen as obsolete by those in the Information Era, but that is becase positive externalities of their functions are not being taken into account.

This reflection has just been published as a book chapter, where I describe the uneven impact of the COVID-19, and why some social functions are really obsolete, but why some others should be revalued so that they do not disappear —and, on the contrary, should be treated with care.

The full book is called Comunicación política en tiempos de crisis (Political communication in times of crisis), coordinated by Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí and Carles Pont Sorribes, to whom I am really thankful for putting together the book in such short time and by quickly inviting me to part of it.

My book chapter is entitled El impacto diferencial de las crisis en la Sociedad del Conocimiento (The differential impact of crisis in the Information Society) and can be downloaded below. All texts are in Spanish.

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Full chapter:
Peña-López, I. (2020). “El impacto diferencial de las crisis en la Sociedad del Conocimiento”. In Gutiérrez-Rubí, A. & Pont Sorribes, C. (Coords.), Comunicación política en tiempos de coronavirus, Capítulo 25, 142-147. Barcelona: Cátedra Ideograma–UPF de Comunicación Política y Democracia.
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Full book:
Gutiérrez-Rubí, A. & Pont Sorribes, C. (Coords.) (2020) Comunicación política en tiempos de coronavirus. Barcelona: Cátedra Ideograma–UPF de Comunicación Política y Democracia.

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20200131

Draft Opinion. Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens

Cover of the draft opinion "Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens"
Draft Opinion “Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens”

On 9 December 2019, the Catalan Government presented a working document at the 26th CIVEX commission meeting of the European Committee of the Regions.

The aim of the working document was to spark a debate for an upcoming Opinion on the “Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens”. The working document had the following scheme:

  1. Bridging the gap between what leaders see vs. what citizens see
  2. Lack of identification of EU issues with daily-life issues
  3. An ecosystem of infrastructures of participation
  4. Engaged citizens in a technopolitical paradigm
  5. Transforming the administration(s)

Now, a draft for that opinion has just been published for its discussion during the 2nd CIVEX commission meeting. As it happened with the working document, my colleague Mireia Borrell, Secretary for External Action and the European Union of the Government of Catalonia, acts as a rapporteur, while I am appointed as an expert to draft the opinion.

A preliminary abstract of that opinion is as follow:

  • Proposes the setting-up of a Network of Open Participatory Governments, made up by regions and cities, with the purpose to translate upwards and downwards diagnoses, perceptions and proposals on European issues and decision-making;
  • Proposes that the Committee of the Regions designs, implements and coordinates such a network in collaboration with all other European institutions;
  • Expects that the Network of Open Participatory Governments can succeed in granularizing European policies and principles and breaking them into smaller, more understandable bits, thus contributing to bring them closer to the citizen, so that they can better draw the line that weaves macro-, meso- and micro-levels of policies;
  • Suggests that the Network of Open Participatory Governments is piloted during the Conference on the Future of Europe to enlarge, extend, intensify and enhance the dialogue between European institutions and citizens through local and regional authorities, contributing to translate upwards and downwards the deliberations taking place at different levels;
  • Wants to raise awareness on the fact that more and more citizens are moving towards a new paradigm of political engagement – technopolitics – which is characterized by horizontal relationships, distributed power and networks of collaboration, enabled and enhanced by digital technologies and open data, taking place in informal spaces and out of institutional circuits;
  • Believes that there are new ways of listening to citizens, new ways of enabling citizens to engage and participate in policy-making, and that a new ecosystem to coordinate the proposals of citizens and the responses of a multi-level administration undoubtedly require a thorough transformation of the culture of administration(s).

Our proposal of the functioning of the Network of Open Participatory Governments is summarized in the following figure:

The full text that will be discussed in the next CIVEX commission can be downloaded below:

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Working document:
Peña-López, I. (2020). Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens. Draft Opinion. Brussels: European Committee of the Regions.

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20191226

Opinion Factsheet. Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens

Cover of the opinion factsheet "Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens"
Opinion Factsheet “Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens”

The European Union is entering a sort of constitutional process. The Conference on the Future of Europe will be a two-year time span devoted to reflect what the EU should be like in many issues, and aiming at institutionalizing this reflection in the form of formal agreements, maybe a new treaty, maybe even a/the constitution.

There is —amongst many others— a big fear driving the conference: the huge disconnection between European institutions and citizens’ daily lives, that increasingly leads citizens to take shortcuts in the forms of populism. A populism that increasingly turns to be sheer fascism. This fear, though, can be turned into an opportunity to engage citizens more and better in public decision-making at the European level. This is the take of the European Committee of the Regions, that believes that European institutions may reconnect with their citizens by reestablishing the transmission chain between them by means of municipalities and regional governments.

This summer, the European Committee of the Regions commissioned my colleague Mireia Borrell, Secretary for External Action and the European Union of the Government of Catalonia, to be the rapporteur of an upcoming opinion on Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens. I was appointed to support her as the technical “expert” to draft the opinion.

On 9 December 2019 we presented a working document/factsheet at the 26th CIVEX commission meeting.

The document is structured as a set of strategic questions that can lead a debate on the problems causing the disconnect between political institutions and citizens, and how a structural ecosystem of citizen participation could bridge this growing chasm between representatives and people. Questions — and tentative proposals for each sub-set of questions — are grouped in the following topics:

  1. Bridging the gap between what leaders see vs. what citizens see
  2. Lack of identification of EU issues with daily-life issues
  3. An ecosystem of infrastructures of participation
  4. Engaged citizens in a technopolitical paradigm
  5. Transforming the administration(s)

The document is publicly available and can be downloaded below. First, in its original language (English), then in the different official languages of the European Committee of the Regions.

Full text downloads:

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Working document:
Peña-López, I. (2019). Local and Regional Authorities in the permanent dialogue with citizens. Working Document. Brussels: European Committee of the Regions.

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