What Motivates Citizens to Participate?
Rapid technological increases in digital communications have allowed individual citizens to mobilize, engage and influence in new and powerful ways, most markedly in the beginning stages of the Arab Spring or in global digital response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. However, as activists, journalists, humanitarians and international observers soon discovered, this form of civic participation often proves as short-lived as it is powerful, with social media tools and campaigns seeing greater success in generating short-term impact than in sustaining the extensive, in-depth and prolonged engagement that necessitates lasting change. The Digital Public Square project is interested in understanding the motivations around civic participation online as it seeks to engage large numbers of people in discussions around transparency and accountability. From a digital diplomacy perspective, how online citizens can be motivated to participate in civic action is a critical precursor to developing platforms for engagement that are interesting, accessible, and informative.
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