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Title: From skepticism to mutual support: towards a structural change in the relations between participatory budgeting and the information and communication technologies?
Authors: Allegretti, Giovanni 
Keywords: Participatory Budgeting; ICT; Information and Communication Technologies; Participatory Democracy; The Internet
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Goethe University Press
Project: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/FCT/5876-PPCDTI/99134/PT 
Serial title, monograph or event: Legitimacy 2.0: E-democracy and Public Opinion in the Digital Age
Place of publication or event: Frankfurt am Main
Abstract: Until three years ago, ICT Technologies represented a main “subordinate clause” within the “grammar” of Participatory Budgeting (PB), the tool made famous by the experience of Porto Alegre and today expanded to more than 1400 cities across the planet. In fact, PB – born to enhance deliberation and exchanges among citizens and local institutions – has long looked at ICTS as a sort of “pollution factor” which could be useful to foster transparency and to support the spreading of information but could also lead to a lowering in quality of public discussion, turning its “instantaneity” into “immediatism,” and its “time-saving accessibility” into “reductionism” and laziness in facing the complexity of public decisionmaking through citizens’ participation. At the same time, ICTs often regarded Participatory Budgeting as a tool that was too-complex and too-charged with ideology to cooperate with. But in the last three years, the barriers which prevented ICTs and Participatory Budgeting to establish a constructive dialogue started to shrink thanks to several experiences which demonstrated that technologies can help overcome some “cognitive injustices” if not just used as a means to “make simpler” the organization of participatory processes and to bring “larger numbers” of intervenients to the process. In fact, ICTs could be valorized as a space adding “diversity” to the processes and increasing outreach capacity. Paradoxically, the experiences helping to overcome the mutual skepticism between ICTs and PB did not come from the centre of the Global North, but were implemented in peripheral or semiperipheral countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Dominican Republic and Portugal in Europe), sometimes in cities where the “digital divide” is still high (at least in terms of Internet connections) and a significant part of the population lives in informal settlements and/or areas with low indicators of “connection.” Somehow, these experiences were able to demystify the “scary monolithicism” of ICTs, showing that some instruments (like mobile phones, and especially the use of SMS text messaging) could grant a higher degree of connectivity, diffusion and accountability, while other dimensions (which could jeopardize social inclusion) could be minimized through creativity. The paper tries to depict a possible panorama of collaboration for the near future, starting from descriptions of some of the above mentioned “turning-point” experiences – both in the Global North as well as in the Global South.
Description: Peer-reviewed conference paper originally presented at the workshop Legitimacy 2.0: E-democracy and Public Opinion in the Digital Age, at the IVR World Congress held in Frankfurt, August 18th 2011
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D CES - Artigos e Resumos em Livros de Actas

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