Making Democracy Work…Better? The Internet as a Tool for Citizen Empowerment

Monday, 27 October 2014 from 12:30 to 15:30 (GMT) London, United Kingdom

This event will seek to provide critical perspectives on how online technologies are being used by civil society to empower citizens and ensure that governing institutions are kept accountable and transparent.

The first part of the event will focus on the efforts of organisations working to bring citizens into the political process using digital tools.

In particular, it will profile the work of the non-profit organisation mySociety, founded and directed by Tom Steinberg, which aims to build websites and tools that empower citizens.

Researchers at the University of Manchester will present a new piece of research carried out with the aid of mySociety digital tools, that investigates the existence of a link between civic digital technologies and the quality of democracy with regard to community attachment.

The second part of the event will provide opportunity for discussion of the research, led by mySociety, and will then open up to the floor for a general discussion on online citizen empowerment.

How ‘wired’ are our representative bodies currently and how much further can and should we go?

How much attention is paid to groups such as mySociety?

Are e-democracy platforms and initiatives better left to grow organically from the outside rather than being fostered by political elites?


Event timings:

12.30 - 13.15:

Arrival and refreshments (a light lunch will be provided)

13.15 - 13.30:

Welcome and introduction

Tom Steinberg, mySociety

Rachel Gibson, CMIST, University of Manchester

13.30 - 14.15:

‘The Third Sector and Online Citizen Empowerment: the Case of mySociety’

Rachel Gibson, CMIST, University of Manchester

Marta Cantijoch, Politics, University of Manchester

14.15 - 14.30:

Refreshment break

14.30 - 15.30:

Response to report, Q & A and discussion

This event is sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council, The University of Manchester, the Speakers Commission on Digital Democracy and mySociety.