Civic Commons: Citizen Participation

The concept of citizen participation has a strong basis in theory: it draws
on deliberative democratic (Habermas and Rawls), civic republican
(Aristotle and Rousseau) and liberal (T.H Green and Dewey) traditions
in citizenship. Broadly, these traditions contend that citizens are members of a ‘political community’ with strong rights and responsibilities to participate in governing and acting in the interests of the ‘common good.’
Such traditions identify participation in community and political decisionmaking as one of the defining features of what it means to be a citizen.

The Civic Commons model builds on these traditions but also seeks to
address some of their limitations. For instance it incorporates rational
deliberation and problem-solving, but moves beyond the narrow
consultation-driven approaches that have defined much deliberative
democracy to date, instead favouring methods which give citizens control
over the nature and topics of discussion. Similarly, the Civic Commons
builds on the concept of a ‘common good’ that is a strong feature of civic
republican thought, but places much greater emphasis on social action
than has previously been the case. In the Civic Commons model, citizens not only take part in shared decision-making about the ‘common good’, but are enabled to help realise it when appropriate.

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