The implications of COVID-19 for concepts and practices of citizenship

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  • 1 Yonsei University, , South Korea
  • | 2 Konkuk University, , South Korea
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Based on a review of citizenship and citizen participation in politics and policy studies, this article reveals diverse concepts of citizens and citizenship and their changing roles within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It argues that the pandemic will result in bringing citizens back into the policy process, given that active participation of citizens in solving wicked social problems has been emphasised. Our results suggest that the pandemic will result in a return of public citizens as their voluntary, active participation and coproduction practices are expected to increase.

Abstract

Based on a review of citizenship and citizen participation in politics and policy studies, this article reveals diverse concepts of citizens and citizenship and their changing roles within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It argues that the pandemic will result in bringing citizens back into the policy process, given that active participation of citizens in solving wicked social problems has been emphasised. Our results suggest that the pandemic will result in a return of public citizens as their voluntary, active participation and coproduction practices are expected to increase.

Introduction

For the past several decades, scholars have revealed the evolving roles of citizens in policy and politics from recipients to coproducers of public services, from passively informed individuals to active information seekers/providers, and from participants in policy decision-making processes to direct decision-makers (N. Roberts, 2004; Callahan, 2007; Thomas, 2013; Moon, 2020). Meanwhile, the concept of citizenship has evolved from legal status to identity with different dimensions, such as formal, political, economic and social citizenship (Fahrmeir, 2007; Leydet, 2017; Cohen and Ghosh, 2019). Nevertheless, the term citizen in scholarly works in the field of public administration and politics has often been used arbitrarily (Roberts, 2020) despite continued changes in the focus and locus of citizens and their roles in society. Recently, there has been growing interest in and significance of the nature and scope of citizens’ new roles in addressing complex wicked policy problems1 because governments and businesses cannot effectively solve them without active and voluntary participation in the various measures taken by different policy actors.

This study conducts a three-stage literature review to investigate the evolving concept of citizenship and citizen participation in the field of public administration and policy and to discuss which forms of citizenship and citizen participation are needed in the pandemic. First, this study reviews the evolving concept of citizenship, which has not been discussed much recently in the field of public administration and policy despite its increasing significance. Second, it reviews the long-term trend of research on citizenship and citizen participation based on the Web of Science Core Collection’s citation report of selected journal publications. Then, it conducts a systematic review of the latest empirical research about citizen participation published between 2018 and 2020 based on the PRISMA statement (Moher et al, 2009).

The results reveal various dimensions of citizenship and demonstrate what ‘citizen’ refers to in the latest citizen participation studies and how the concept of citizenship has expanded to include marginalised groups that were not previously considered mainstream in discussions about citizens. This study also reveals the expanding roles of citizens in a society facing increasingly wicked policy problems. Based on the findings and the latest empirical evidence, this study suggests that the current pandemic will result in a return of citizens with an expectation that the voluntary, engaged and active participation of citizens and coproduction practices will be increasingly demanded and critical to mitigating COVID-19.

Understanding the dimensions of evolving citizenship

The definition of citizenship is not fixed but rather constantly evolving by mirroring the socioeconomic conditions and political changes in society. In particular, the meaning of citizenship is often contextualised because the locus and focus of citizens in politics and policy processes vary by country and over time. Many scholarly works have revealed the diversity and evolution of the government– (or administrator–)citizen relationship by assessing the roles of citizens in government affairs (Arnstein, 1969; Cooper and Gulick, 1984; Thomas, 1995; King and Stivers, 1998). As the discussion of citizen involvement and participation has continued to evolve, its scope has expanded to various aspects of government, such as planning, budgeting and performance management.

Citizenship has been examined from various perspectives, including individualistic liberalism, communitarianism, Confucianism and Marxism (Wiseman, 1998). Citizenship basically defines the rights and duties of individuals who are members of communities or states. Examining the history of the modern concept of citizenship, Fahrmeir (2007) highlighted three dimensions of citizenship, including political, economic and social citizenship. That study was similar to Marshall’s (1950) seminal work on three categories of citizenship, which are based on various citizens’ rights, including civil rights (that is, liberty), political rights (that is, voting), and social rights (that is, economic and social welfare). Fahrmeir (2007) investigated the nature of citizenship beyond formal citizenship, which is defined by membership in a state–citizen relationship, and delineated three dimensions of citizenship as follows:

Political citizenship describes the ability of individuals to participate in political decision-making processes, for instance, by casting votes in elections or standing as candidates. Economic citizenship refers to the right to earn an income by accepting employment or opening a business. Economically liberal but politically restrictive regimes show that economic citizenship can be separated from the right to freedom of expression and action, which Marshall’s ‘civil citizenship’ includes. Social citizenship, finally, … a claim to direct or indirect support from the state. (Fahrmeir, 2007: 3)

While the three categories of citizenship emphasise their unique nature, they are not completely separate but rather interrelated. For example, economic and social citizenship can often be obtained and enhanced after political citizenship, which refers to political rights being obtained and strengthened. However, the relationships among these different types of citizenship are not always linear. The strength of the relationship between economic citizenship and social citizenship might decrease or increase without any change in political citizenship in society. Thanks to the fluidity and evolutionary nature of citizenship, citizenship is not necessarily constrained by geographical and jurisdictional boundaries, although formal citizenship is explicitly bound by nations. For example, political citizenship becomes much more important than social citizenship in the democratisation process. In contrast, economic and social citizenship are much more fluid and often go beyond national and jurisdictional boundaries, as economic/business activities and social protection/programmes for non-citizens are often implemented and extended. To extend the citizenship typologies of Fahrmeir (2007), we propose dividing social citizenship into two different levels: formal social citizenship and public citizenship. The former refers to a narrow sense of social citizenship that is related to the rights of individuals as members of communities and states and primarily associated with eligibility for social security programmes as well as formal and informal social support from governments. The latter refers to the ethical and civic actorhood of citizens at both the individual and institutional levels who are particularly active in raising their voices and playing roles in various civic and social issues (for example, the environment, poverty, human rights) in the public sphere.

Public citizenship is different from political citizenship because political citizenship is associated with voting rights and residence requirements for individuals seeking to hold a public office, while public citizenship refers to both formal and informal involvement in administrative and policymaking processes, which often do not necessarily require any formal citizenship or residence. In part, public citizenship may be extended to communitarian citizenship (Etzioni, 2011; 2020), which often stresses the ethical preferences of individuals (Harasanyi, 1955) and social responsibility, which differ from purely individualistic rights-bearing citizenship. Table 1 summarises different types of citizenship and their distinctive characteristics in terms of key activities, values, policy areas and others.

Table 1:

Dimensions and characteristics of citizenship

DimensionsActivitiesValuesDimensionsOthers
Political Citizenship
  • Voting

  • Public office eligibility

  • Liberty

  • Equality

Politics
  • Formal citizenship

  • Residence requirements for electorates

Economic CitizenshipBusiness and economic activities
  • Fairness

  • Property rights

EconomyFormal citizenship or legal status requirements
Social CitizenshipEntitlement for social programmes
  • Equity

  • Inclusiveness

  • Social inclusion

  • Social welfare

Formal citizenship or residence requirements for the beneficiaries of social programmes
Public Citizenship
  • Social activities

  • Civic engagement

  • Openness

  • Interaction

  • Communitarian responsibility

  • Civic Duties

  • Social activism

No formal requirements but interests or membership in civic organisations

Long-term trend of citizenship and citizen participation research

This section examines the general trend of research on citizenship and citizen participation to explain how the concept of citizen and citizenship evolved with expanding interests in public administration, political science and policy studies. While we focus on the literature of political science and public administration, we note that these topics have been studied in various fields, such as urban planning and policy (Burke, 1968; Arnstein, 1969; Fagence, 1977) and sociology (Alford and Friedland, 1975; Glenn, 2011; Duquette-Rury, 2016). Figure 1 shows the general trends of political science and public administration journal articles. We used the Web of Science Core Collection to review the trends of journal publications on citizens and citizenship as well as citizen participation from 1969 to 2020. The search scope was limited to articles (document type) published in Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) journals (indexes) and categorised as political science or public administration (categories). The search returned 10,767 articles on the topic of ‘citizen’ and 3,214 articles on the topic of ‘citizenship’ (Figure 1). The number of journal publications was relatively stable until 1991, when it began to significantly increase. Research on citizens has steadily increased over time since 1991, with a peak in ‘citizenship research’ between 2004 and 2011. The search results on ‘citizen participation’ were also obtained under the same search conditions. A total of 738 journal articles were found, which is much lower than the number of research articles on citizens or citizenship. The figure also suggests that scholarly interest in ‘citizen participation’ began to emerge slowly in the 1970s and remained stable until the 1990s. However, it began to dramatically increase in the 2000s, which suggests that upon entering the twenty-first century, research interest in citizen participation in various forms (offline and online) exploded.

In the top graph, the horizontal axis is scaled from 1969 to 2020 in increments of 1 years. The left vertical axis is scaled from 0 to 1200 in increments of 200 units and the right vertical axis is scaled from 0 to 300 in increment of 50 units. The graph shows that from 1969 to 1991 the number of journal publications on ‘citizen’ and ‘citizenship’ were almost identical and were close to 0. From 1992 to 2007, the number of both types of journals increased steadily and were again almost similar. From 2008 to 2018, the number of citizenship journals were more in number than the citizen journals and the maximum number of citizenship journals in those years were published in 2012. From 2018 to 2020, the number of both types of journals kept increasing and were again almost similar. However, the number of citizenship journals in 2020 showed a small decrease.
Figure 1:

Journal publications on ‘citizen’, ‘citizenship’ and ‘citizen participation’

Citation: Policy & Politics 50, 1; 10.1332/030557321X16366464230797

The data was collected from Web of Science Core Collection.

The long-term review of citizen, citizenship and citizen participation studies shows that their volume grew and that both the locus and focus of citizenship continued to evolve, particularly in response to emerging policy problems of increasing uncertainty and complexity. In social movements for human rights and the welfare of underprivileged groups in the US, for example, the focus of citizenship dramatically shifted from political citizenship emphasising voting rights to social and public citizenship stressing the importance of social safety networks and social actorhood of underprivileged people or civic groups. Citizens’ roles in policy and politics grew in the 1960s and 1970s. Scholarly attention to citizens’ participation and social actions has begun to increase (Kweit and Kweit, 1981; Moynihan, 2003; Cooper et al, 2006; Meier and O’Toole, 2006). Social movements have reflected political and social changes in American society that became increasingly diversified as more groups of people sought to become politically and socially organised to raise their voices and influence their governments. Since then, citizen participation in policy processes has begun to dramatically grow, and citizens have been recognised as significant policy actors, which indicates the shift of citizenship toward active public citizenship.

Citizens emerged as key player(s) in government administration when their ability to participate increased. Various types of citizen involvement have appeared, each with its own purpose. Scholars in different fields have begun to pay attention to growing citizen participation and develop various typologies of citizen participation (Day, 1997; Callahan, 2007). Among those contested works, Arnstein’s (1969) ‘ladder of citizen participation’ model is one of the earliest and most well-recognised citizen involvement models. She established a continuum model of participation in planning by assuming that citizen involvement in planning is a zero-sum game of power between the citizen and government. Citizens have no authority at the bottom rung of the ladder, and their influence increases as they climb the ladder. Pateman (1970) proposed a continuum of participation in terms of industrial democracy, which consists of pseudo, partial and full participation based on the level of participation in actual decision-making.

Citizens’ active roles have become increasingly significant given that the ‘problem-focused approach’ often calls for inclusive or collaborative decision-making to solve wicked problems with unclear boundaries that a single organisation cannot handle (Lawrence et al, 1999). In the 1980s, the concept of coproduction also began to emerge, highlighting the extended roles of citizens not only in offering policy ideas but also in participating in the ‘full value chain of service planning, design, commissioning, managing, delivering, monitoring, and evaluation activities’ (Bovaird, 2007: 847). In particular, the function of coproduction has been introduced since the 1980s as a tool to reduce the cost and improve the quality of services (Parks et al, 1981; Brudney and England, 1983; Alford, 1998; Ostrom, 1996), and since the 2000s, it has been extended (Verschuere et al, 2012; Alford, 2016; Nabatchi et al, 2017).

Based on their comprehensive review of the previous coproduction literature and their understanding of the main actors, tasks and processes of coproduction, Nabatchi, Sancino and Sicilia (2017) define coproduction broadly and refer to a wide range of collaborative and participatory activities of various actors, including governments and citizens at every level (individual, group and collective) and in every stage of the public policy and service cycles. Presenting conceptual approaches to collective coproduction, Bovaird and his colleagues (2015) similarly categorise coproduction into four different types, namely, private individual, private collective, philanthropic individual and philanthropic collective coproduction. They suggest that citizens involved in coproduction activities often pursue either private or collective benefits while participating in coproduction individually or collectively.

Responding to the rise of coproduction literature, many governments have called for more active and autonomous roles for citizens, using terms such as citizen-sourcing, crowdsourcing and coproduction, in different stages of policy processes, including data and information collection, service coproduction, solution creation and policy decisions (Nam, 2012; Liu, 2017; Moon, 2017a). Governments often engage citizens not only to solve policy problems collaboratively but also to help identify policy problems (Mergel and Desouza, 2013). For example, the US federal government’s challenge.gov website includes an open call for citizens to present their solutions to social problems, and citizenscience.gov has presented 450 federal crowdsourcing projects as of 7 October 2020. Similar citizen-sourcing platforms used for policy problem identification and policy solutions have been widely introduced in various policy areas at the local level (311 citizen requests systems in various local governments in the US) (Taeihagh, 2017) and national level (e.g., ‘cutting red tape’ in the UK).

Citizen sourcing in policy processes has often increased due to the continued advancement of digital technologies and the growing demand for participatory democracy. While digital technologies have enhanced computing power and upgraded the scale and speed of information transactions between citizens and governments, participatory democracy emphasises direct and plebiscitary democracy and the need to overcome the political constraints of representative democracy and pluralistic democracy (Hacker and van Dijk, 2000). Of course, there have been long-standing debates on the strengths and weaknesses of different modes of democracy. For example, Lindner and Aichholzer (2020) propose the three main modes of liberal democracy, deliberative democracy, and participatory democracy, which are characterised by two different dimensions: the primary goal (the chief aim of democratic governance) and the mode of decision-making. They argue that liberal democracy often aims to enhance efficiency and political stability rather than inclusiveness and often involves indirect and representative modes of decision-making rather than direct and plebiscitary ones, while participatory democracy emphasises inclusiveness as a primary goal and direct and plebiscitary modes of decision-making are often employed. Direct and plebiscitary democracy promotes inclusiveness and political efficacy (Lindner and Aichholzer, 2020).

Another group of scholars focused on the characteristics of citizens participating in various forms of activities and developed a typology of citizen involvement in terms of management tools from the public manager perspective (Thomas, 1990; 1993; Shand and Arnberg, 1996; Bishop and Davis, 2002). For example, Thomas (1990; 1993) assessed how public managers deal with public involvement in policymaking decisions based on small group decision-making theory (Vroom and Yetton, 1973). He considered different types of public managers’ decision-making on the continuum of the level of public involvement. He argued that managers choose a decision-making strategy by considering contingencies, such as the level of information available, the need for public acceptance, organisational goals, and the expected amount of conflict. Shand and Arnberg (1996) emphasised public officials’ choice of involvement techniques based on the purpose of participation activities focusing on citizen involvement in service delivery. The study aimed to provide possible public involvement options to public officials who design service delivery systems and claimed that the type of policy problem and external environment of policy implementation should be considered. Similarly, Bishop and Davis (2002) highlighted the choice of public officials to allow public involvement. Their typology, however, is similar to studies that created a catalogue of participation mechanisms and selection criteria (Rosener, 1975; Rowe and Frewer, 2000; 2005).

Analysing the roles of citizens in seven different political and administrative systems, Roberts (2004) found that citizens can be empowered to engage in different roles, such as voters, advocates, consumers, customers, volunteers, coproducers and colearners. As summarised in Table 2, Callahan (2007) also provided a more extended explanation of administrator–citizen interactions. She summarised the changing roles, management approaches, dynamics and interaction methods used by government officials and citizens and suggested how citizens interact with governments and their roles are interwoven throughout administrative and political processes.

Table 2:

Administrator–citizen interactions

Political and administrative systemAdministrator roleCitizen roleManagerial approachDynamicMethod of interaction
Authority systemRulerSubjectCoerciveAuthorityGovernment control
Representative democracyImplementerVoterRepresentativeTrustVoting
Traditional beaucracyExpertClientNeutral competenceControlCompliance
New Public ManagementProfessionalCustomerResponsivePassiveConsultive
New Public ServicePublic servantCitizenFacilitativeEngagedDeliberative
Coproduction and collaborationCoproducerCoproducerCollaborativeActivePartnership
Value-centred managementBrokerInvestorCommunalCooperativeCo-investing
Ownership modelEmployeeOwnerComplianceConflictCitizen control

Adapted from Callahan (2007: 1186) and revised

Citizens and modes of citizen participation in recent works

The review of the evolving concept of ‘citizenship’ demonstrates citizenship’s diverse dimensions, that is, political, public, social and economic citizenship. Among them, public citizenship is the most recently developed concept and emphasises openness, interaction and communitarian responsibility, with no formal citizenship or legal status required. It highlights civic duties and social activism and is revealed in the form of social activities and civic engagement. The review of the long-term trend of ‘citizen’, ‘citizenship’ and ‘citizen participation’ research in the public administration and policy sphere also reveals that the role of citizens recently became more active and autonomous in different stages of policy processes. The forms of citizen participation, such as citizen-sourcing, crowdsourcing and coproduction, consist of various activities such as data and information collection, service coproduction, solution creation and policy decisions (Nam, 2012; Liu, 2017; Moon, 2017a). Both administrators and participating citizens are coproducers of government services establishing an active partnership to collaborate.

These findings then lead to the question of what the latest ‘citizen participation’ practices are and the roles of the citizen in those practices. The answer is expected to have implications for citizen and citizen participation research in the future, which will focus on the shifting roles of citizens in the policymaking process, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of disruptive technologies. This study answers this question by examining the state of the latest research on citizen participation published in selected academic journals in the public administration and policy field. We searched for articles on the topic of ‘participation’ from the Web of Science Core Collection because we limited our search pool to the selected academic journals listed in the SSCI. Our search was also limited to articles published between 2018 and 2020 and from selected SSCI journals categorised as political science or public administration.2 The number of articles selected for this study was initially 193 of 3,143 articles published in 2018, 2019 and 2020 in 23 academic journals in political science and public administration.3 Then, we identified 71 articles; book reviews, commentaries and unrelated studies were excluded.

Seventy-one articles were categorised by the year of publication and the type of participation mechanisms based on citizen participation models (Thomas, 2013; Roberts, 2004; Callahan, 2007; Nabatchi et al, 2017). One group of articles (52 articles of 71) deals with ‘basic citizen participation mechanisms’ involving simple one- or two-way citizen participation methods, such as public meetings, focus groups, simulations and advisory committees (Dudley et al, 2018; Ammons and Madej, 2018; Amirkhanyan et al, 2019; Kroll et al, 2019; van Holm, 2019; Jo, 2021), and political participation, such as mobilisations and protests (Marx and Nguyen, 2018; Schmidthuber et al, 2019; Nesti and Graziano, 2020). Citizens in this category might be considered informed observers or limitedly engaged participants in policymaking processes (Hensengerth and Lu, 2019). The second category, ‘coproduction and collaborative citizen participation mechanisms’, includes articles addressing area-specific or high levels of citizen participation as part of coproduction or collaborative governance (Gustafson and Hertting, 2017; Yetano and Royo, 2017; Uzochukwu and Thomas, 2018; Cheng, 2019). Twelve of 71 articles belong in this category. The third category, ‘e-participation mechanism’, refers to online citizen participation, which has become increasingly important for policy discourses through digital platforms (Zheng and Schachter, 2018; Lee and Kim, 2018; Ingrams and Schachter, 2019). Only seven articles examine e-participation.

The review of the most recent articles on citizenship and citizen participation in 23 journals in politics and policy yields three noteworthy issues (that is, the participation of marginalised groups, participation in addressing environmental problems, and nontechnical factors related to e-participation). First, a group of scholars point out the diversity of participants and highlight specific groups of people, such as immigrants (Klarenbeek and Weide, 2020), racial minority groups (Xu and Tang, 2020), women (Schneider and Carroll, 2020), and economic minority groups (van Holm, 2019), while elite capture in local governance is still problematic (Waheduzzaman et al, 2018; Michels, 2019). In particular, studies on the identified heterogeneity of actors who created a new form of civic political engagement revealed by the case of urban protest movements in Hong Kong (Lejano et al, 2018) and the paradox that immigrant participation is both demanded and feared (Klarenbeek and Weide, 2020) are noteworthy. These findings are closely related to those of scholarly works emphasising the impact of participation mechanism design choices that may cause inequality in participant selection (Clark, 2018; Baldwin, 2019; Eckerd and Heidelberg, 2020).

Second, studies highlight the need for collaboration to address environmental issues, such as climate change (Hamilton and Lubell, 2018; Dany and Lebel, 2020; Holm and Berardo, 2020), wildlife protection (Duit and Löf, 2018; Sullivan, 2019), watershed governance (Mewhirter et al, 2019; García and Bodin, 2019; Hui et al, 2020) and environmental protection (Zhang et al, 2018; Hensengerth and Lu, 2019), with diverse perspectives. Some studies reveal the context of collaboration. Hamilton and Lubel (2018) find that collaboration at the lower spatial and institutional scale, such as in policy forums dealing with lower operational choices, works better. Dany and Lebel (2020) also find that subnational planning is more participatory and flexible. Similarly, Mewhirter, Coleman and Berardo (2019) find that people who participate in multiple policy forums value decisions in different collaborative forums unequally. Hui, Ulibarri and Cain (2020) also explain that the uneven participation pattern affects the substantive value created by collaboration.

Third, studies note the importance of nontechnological factors related to e-participation. E-participation is a new but widely observed form of citizen participation in the digital world, suggesting the significance of nontechnical issues, such as social capital and administrators’ willingness (Zheng and Schachter, 2018; Lee and Kim, 2018; Ma and Zheng, 2018; Ingrams and Schachter, 2019). The survey conducted by Ma and Zheng (2018) reveals that e-government performance does not have a statistically significant influence on citizens’ e-participation use. However, Ingrams and Schachter (2019) and Lee and Kim (2018) reveal that the social capital and social factors of e-participants influence e-participation practices. Zhang and Feeney (2018) and Liao and Schachter (2018) point out that managerial willingness is important in shaping electronic engagement efforts. Further empirical investigations are required to assess which nontechnical factors matter, but it is expected that differences will be seen in e-participation practices as citizenship type changes.

Revisiting citizenship in the pandemic: models of democracy and coproduction

The three-stage review indicates that the concept and roles of citizens in public administration and policy have changed over time. Citizens were often previously passive recipients of government services but are now active initiators and coproducers of public services. The span of their participation is now the entire spectrum of the public policy process from problem identification to evaluation and feedback. Citizen participation occurs in various fields of policy, such as the environment, public health, transportation and education, and the related problems have become increasingly complex. Thus, what is the new model of participation considering the changed context? What type of public participation is needed to address the challenges caused by COVID-19? How does e-participation matter in this changing situation?

Extending the models of democracy (Lindner and Aichholzer, 2020), which are determined by the primary aims of democratic governance (efficiency versus inclusiveness) and the mode of decision-making (indirect/representative versus direct/plebiscitary), we discuss types of citizenship in the context of the models of democracy (liberal versus deliberative versus participatory democracy) and coproduction (cocommissioning, codesign, codelivery and coassessment) (Nabatchi et al, 2017). First, liberal democracy is closely related to political citizenship, where individual political rights and voices are primarily valued, and it arises in societies that value a high level of individualistic libertarian perspective. Deliberative democracy lies between liberal democracy and participatory democracy and involves facilitating and stressing engaged citizenship, which requires the active roles of well-informed citizens and deliberative discourse in decision-making. Participatory democracy is also closely connected to active public citizenship and requires participation that is more action- and community-oriented than engaging in deliberation.

Because of the infectious nature of COVID-19, the significance of public citizenship is being revisited, particularly during the pandemic. The public health literature has often stressed that to fight against infectious diseases, in fact, individualism needs to shift to responsible citizenship (which we call public citizenship) simply because no one can be fully free from a highly infectious disease and mutual concern for community members and social benefits is critical to the safety of the community (Wiseman, 1998). Similarly, public interest and mutual concern are the fundamental bases of social citizenship (for example, the provision of merit goods such as health services), which highlights the rationale for providing minimum social support and security to protect individual members and ensure the stability and prosperity of the whole community (Mustgrave, 1957; Wiseman, 1998). This relates to an argument (Etzioni, 2014; 1993) that a middle ground must be sought where individual and communal concerns intersect and individual rights and the common good overlap, which appears to be particularly significant during the pandemic because it requires citizens and community-based organisations to play extensive and active roles to effectively mitigate the pandemic (Cheng et al, 2020; Lee et al, 2020; 2020; Weible et al, 2020).

In addition to the model of democracy in the two-dimensional space (Lindner and Aichholzer, 2020), as indicated in Figure 2, we characterise the mode of coproduction in the two-dimensional space (cycle of public service and mode of participation). The mode of participation basically concerns the degree of participation from passive participation, such as the expression of political opinion or policy ideas, to active or action-oriented participation, which is closely related to community-oriented activities. The cycle of public service refers to various procedural dimensions in which citizens are involved in different phases of public service, including the following:4 1) presenting policy ideas and prioritising public service needs (cocommissioning); 2) planning and arranging public services (codesign); 3) providing and delivering public services (codelivery); and 4) monitoring and assessing the performance of public services (coassessment) (Nabatchi et al, 2017).

In the illustration, there is a square divided into two parts by a diagonal that rises from the square’s left to right. Each side of the square has a double headed arrow listed as follows. On the top, right, bottom, and left are double headed arrows labeled mode of decision making, channel of participation, stage of coproduction, and chief aim of democratic governance, respectively. The left and right of mode of decision making are labeled indirect representative and direct plebiscitary, respectively. The top and bottom channel of participation are labeled online and off-line, respectively. The left and right of stage of coproduction are labeled co-design and co-delivery, respectively. The top and bottom of chief aim of democratic governance are labeled inclusiveness and efficiency, respectively. Several ovals are attached to the top and bottom of the diagonal, and they form pair. Starting from the left of the diagonal, the oval pairs are as follows. Liberal and conventional libertarian citizenship, deliberative and engaged citizenship, and participatory and active coproduction citizenship.
Figure 2:

Models of democracy and coproduction

Citation: Policy & Politics 50, 1; 10.1332/030557321X16366464230797

Extended and developed based on the models presented by Lindner and Aichholzer (2020) and by Nabatchi et al (2017)

While traditional forms of citizen participation in political and social issues are still important in democratic societies, new forms of citizen participation have been demanded. The simple traditional participation mechanism refers to any involvement of citizens in planning and decision-making processes that government officials can complete without citizen participation. Digital platforms have been widely accepted as a powerful instrument that makes citizens informed and digitally engaged with community actions (Moon, 2017a; Lindner and Aichholzer, 2020; IAPP, n.d.). Citizens are no longer simply informed or recipients of social benefits but rather become coproducers (codesigners or codeliverers) of public services using open government data and application programming interfaces (APIs) (Moon, 2017a; 2020). In Korea, for example, many COVID-19 apps, such as facial mask locators, were developed by groups of technologically savvy citizens using public data on facial mask sales by different drugstores, which helped citizens locate nearby drugstores with stocks of facial masks. The responsible and cooperative roles of citizens are also critical in the pandemic because nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), such as personal sanitisation, mask-wearing and social distancing, often require the voluntary participation of citizens and are considered to be as significant as the policy actions of governments.

As the coproduction literature suggests (Alford, 1998; 2016; Bovaird, 2007; Bovaird et al, 2015; Nabatchi et al, 2017), citizens have begun to engage in more active roles beyond their political and social roles by producing public services in collaboration with governments. The fundamental challenge for governments is to reassess the nature and roles of citizens and redefine citizen participation in policy processes. Then, governments need to identify alternative strategies to further empower citizens in policy processes and build participative and collaborative relationships with citizens to actively engage citizens in designing and producing public services to solve various social problems.

Societies have been bringing citizens back into public policy not simply as service recipients, clients, customers and voters but as active participants and players in various stages of policy design, making, delivery and evaluation. To widen and deepen citizen participation in various dimensions of public policy, governments need to address how the roles of citizens and the nature of citizenship should be presented to cope with wicked policy problems in the post-COVID-19 era. Citizens have already become partners in public administration and policy, and governments must consider citizen-centric and citizen-sourcing solutions through coproduction (Brudney and England, 1983; Bovaird, 2007; Bovaird et al, 2015; Brandsen and Honingh, 2016; Nabatchi et al, 2017; Cheng, 2019). These participatory mechanisms, however, require citizens’ active participation and close deliberation over a long period. In particular, the pandemic situation has brought citizens, particularly communitarian citizenship, back into public policy because citizen participation and voluntary actions in NPIs have become so critical to the pandemic’s effective mitigation (Moon, 2020; Lee et al, 2020) along with various policy instruments adopted by governments, such as lockdowns, school and work closures, public transportation restrictions and border controls. Similar to the philanthropic coproduction approach (by both individuals and collectively) proposed by Bovaird and his colleagues (2015), communitarian and voluntary participation has already been demonstrated as a key determinant of effectively fighting infectious diseases to achieve both individual and community benefits (Etzioni, 2020).

Conclusions: future of citizens and citizenship in wicked policy problems

The roles of citizens in public policy have changed over time, and citizens have moved from being passive recipients of government services to active initiators and coproducers of public services by participating in the whole lifecycle of public policies from identifying policy problems to designing and implementing policies to evaluating their impacts. Citizens are expected to prefer active participation in policy decision-making processes due to the increasing complexity and uncertainty of policy problems and the importance of real-time information that can be obtained from the data generated from citizens’ daily lives and used for public policies in various areas, including public health, transportation, environment and education. Moreover, the span of citizen participation has further extended to service delivery, as citizens have begun to play significant roles not only as demanders of policy solutions but also as sources of solutions for various wicked problems. The review presented in this study highlighted the expanded concept of citizens participating in policy. This study also suggests that the continued emergence of highly complex problems such as COVID-19 and global warming might facilitate a gradual shift of citizenship from individualistic libertarian citizenship toward one more balanced with communitarianism.

In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many norms and practices of governance and public policy to be questioned. While the pandemic is challenging states’ governance capacity to prevent and mitigate the infectious virus and recover from social and economic damage, it is also testing citizens’ community engagement and participation in efforts to control the virus. Recent studies (Etzioni, 2020; 2021) support the importance of the communitarian approach by emphasising citizen participation and citizens’ roles in social distancing for both individual and communal interests.

Considering the growing risks of problems such as COVID-19 and climate change as well as the emergence of digital technology-enabled platforms for policy discourse, the roles of citizens in policy processes will not only continue to expand in scale but also become more influential in strength. Pursuing Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Democracy and supercollaborative governance (European Union, 2019), future governments may become more citizen-centred and are likely to increasingly refer to crowdsourcing and coproduction mechanisms that will enable citizens to initiate policy tools to address problems, make policy decisions and participate in the implementation process (Moon, 2017a; 2017b). The examples of challenge.gov in the US (Mergel and Desouza, 2013) and the Red Tape Challenge in the UK (Lodge and Wegrich, 2015) highlight the extended roles of citizens in a crowdsourcing government.

A government platform to support the codesign and coproduction of services is also needed (O’Reilly, 2011; Moon, 2017b). As crowdsourcing platforms (Accenture, 2018) and a supercollaborative governance model (European Union, 2019) suggest, governments are expected to continue to shape an open and collaborative governance mechanism and sustain innovations and digital technology-based policy platforms where citizens, private and nonprofit organisations and quasi-government organisations are engaged and assisted by governments or political systems.

Believing that the pandemic is bringing citizens back into public policy not simply as customers or clients but as critical political and policy actors, we need to revisit the significance of citizens at both the individual and collective levels in solving various policy problems of high complexity, multiplicity, interconnectedness, uncertainty and indefinity. Experiencing the pandemic, we need to revisit the significance of communitarian values and the role of communitarian citizenship in a society, particularly when the interconnectedness of individuals is critical to solving policy problems such as common pool resources and policy problems such as COVID-19 and climate change (Etzioni, 2020). To solve growing policy problems, as a recent report by the World Economic Forum (2021) suggests, we should continue to build societal cohesion domestically and global cooperation internationally, which inevitably requires strong communitarian citizenship at both domestic and international levels. Nevertheless, challenges still remain, such as the difficulty of ensuring institutional legitimacy, social stability and sustainability, as society continues to shift from indirect and representative democracy to deliberative and participatory democracy, particularly through active online interactions of digital citizens as well as offline and online participatory interactions.

Notes

1

Regarding wicked problems, please see Head (2019).

2

The list of journals includes Administration & Society, the American Review of Public Administration, Critical Policy Studies, Governance – An International Journal of Policy Administration and Institutions, the International Public Management Journal, the International Review of Administrative Science, the Journal of European Public Policy, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, the Journal of Public Policy, Local Government Studies, Policy and Politics, Policy and Society, Policy Sciences, Policy Studies, the Policy Studies Journal, Public Administration, the Public Administration Review, the Public Management Review, Public Money and Management, the Public Performance & Management Review, Public Policy and Administration, and the Review of Policy Research.

3

The number of articles on citizen participation in each selected journal is as follows: Administration & Society (6 of 169), the American Review of Public Administration (13 of 206), Critical Policy Studies (3 of 77), Governance – An International Journal of Policy Administration and Institutions (7 of 127), the International Public Management Journal (6 of 100), the International Review of Administrative Science (9 of 125), the Journal of European Public Policy (11 of 280), the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (9 of 102), the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (6 of 109), the Journal of Public Policy (4 of 68), Local Government Studies (11 of 130), Policy and Politics (8 of 97), Policy and Society (5 of 90), Policy Sciences (5 of 80), Policy Studies (9 of 103), the Policy Studies Journal (9 of 133), Public Administration (8 of 165), the Public Administration Review (17 of 234), the Public Management Review (15 of 242), Public Money and Management (7 of 194), the Public Performance & Management Review (15 of 149), Public Policy and Administration (4 of 66), and the Review of Policy Research (6 of 97).

4

For more details, see Nabatchi et al (2017).

Funding

This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2021S1A5A2A03065493).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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  • 1 Yonsei University, , South Korea
  • | 2 Konkuk University, , South Korea

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