My main work (to date!) is my doctoral thesis and here it is:
Howe, C. (2014). Building Civic Architecture in Cyberspace (Final print version). University of Sussex.
Realistically I expect very few people will read the whole thing so here in the abstract to tempt you in:
At the same time as we are seeing ever increasing numbers of people actively using social networking sites, and growing evidence of increased participation in campaigning and digital activism, we are seeing a decline in democratic participation in the UK at both a national and local level. This thesis examines these two contrasting effects within the context of Local Government in the UK and explores what the impact might be at the neighbourhood level. The work discusses the influence of place based online activity on democratic decision-making Local Government and the ways in which traditional processes of decision-making, democratic participation and community engagement practice may need to change to reflect the upward pressure that is being exerted by citizen use of new technologies and adjust the way in which Local Government facilitates citizen participation in decision-making.
The work develops the concept of Digital civic space as an alternative to eParticipation platforms and discusses how such spaces are being used to connect online activity with democratic processes at present and how present experience may be used to inform future developments. Employing an Action Research method, the research analyses three projects in order to examine the nature of the pre-existing participation online and the impact of creating online civic spaces to connect the participants both to each other and to local decision-makers.
Design criteria are proposed which describe the necessary qualities of public-ness, openness, co-production, definition of place and identity and the thesis reaches conclusions as to how these criteria might better connect local residents with the democratic decision-making processes for their communities.
I also wanted to repost my acknowledgements page as I without the help I received while doing the PHD I would never ever have finished it:
I would like to thank my supervisor Professor Ed Steinmueller for his perfect mix of pragmatism and exacting standards that have made it possible for me to complete this work.
I would like to thank my colleagues at Public-i and also the clients who have helped and supported me during the course of this research. I also want to thank the many people who commented and contributed so much on the blog and Twitter and gave me the confidence to ‘think in public’. A special thank you also to George who has read the whole thing and given me insightful comments and amazing support.
Finally I want to thank my friends, family and in particular my husband Tim who endlessly encouraged me and put up with the unavoidable side effects of doing a PHD in parallel with attempting to have a life.
And here are some of the other things I have had published along the way:
- Howe, C. (2006). Evaluation of the eParticipate Project The Use of Webcasting to Support and Encourage eParticipation. In P. C. and M. Cunningham (Ed.), Exploiting the Knowledge Economy: Issues, Applications, Case Studies. IOS Press, 2006 Amsterdam.
- Howe, C. (2008). CitizenScape Discussion Paper – Working with Web 2 . 0 to Engage Citizens with Democracy. In Paul Cunningham & M. Cunningham (Eds.), Collaboration and the Knowledge Economy: Issues, Applications, Case Studies. IOS Press, 2008 Amsterdam.
- Howe, C. (2009). Building the Virtual Town Hall: Civic Architecture for Cyberspace. In 3rd Conference on Electronic Democracy EDEM 2009.
- Howe, C. (2013). Networked accountability. In The state of accountability in 2013 (pp. 70–74).