Civic Innovation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Civic Innovation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

by Carmen SirianniBrandeis University

Over the past several decades, scholars across a variety of social science disciplines have turned their attention to civic innovation that might have the potential to enrich democracy and revitalize civic life. These studies have generally been anchored in democratic theory, 1 but have primarily been driven by empirical cases appearing in many kinds of settings: neighborhood revitalization, environmental justice, community policing, congregation-based organizing, healthy community initiatives, youth engagement in city governance, collaborative planning and ecosystem management, deliberative forums to address any number of policy choices, and much more. In some cases, empirical findings have been set in the context of longer-term developments, such as the decline of multi-tiered civic associations, the erosion in traditional forms of social capital, the displacement of robust traditions of public work within aggrieved populism, or deficits in plebiscitary innovations inherited from the Progressive era. 2

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Perspectives on Politics  /  Volume 15Issue 1  /  March 2017, pp. 122-128

1 Comment

  1. Great post Carmen, it really inspired me.

    One of the most positive ways I’ve seen this civic innovation in action is the boom in co-working spaces and the creative effect they’re having on communities.

    They’re incredibly creative space where start-ups, freelancers and contract workers come together to keep their admin costs down. But the also serve as an incubator for innovation – people bounce ideas around, collaborate and develop new projects.

    Best of all, they contribute to the areas they’re in, breath new life into run-down areas and provide a place for people to work.

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