(Dis)Empowering Technologies? Social Construction of Electronic Participation Tools
The paper aims to analyze the “Active Citizen” project, an electronic platform for e-referenda launched by the Moscow City Governments. The platform allows residents of Moscow to propose and vo.te on issues related to provision and management of urban services and infrastructure. Thus, the launch of the project represents the attempt of the Moscow Municipality to engage citizens in urban governance. Despite the municipal authorities’ claims of that the new e-governance platform stimulates the participation of citizens in urban governance, it is questionable whether the problem of the democratic deficit in public administration and urban planning could be solved by technical means only. The paper aims at dealing with the problem of public participation in urban governance both conceptually and empirically. The article puts the question of public participation in urban governance in the limelight of the STS debate about citizen engagement in technical decision-making. Furthermore, it applies the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) approach to the analysis of the “Active Citizen” platform in order to answer the following research question: how does the “Active Citizen” transform the relationship among different actors involved in the process of urban development.