Participation in citizens' summits and public engagement

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In addressing the problem of alienation, normative democratic theories claim that citizen participation encourages public engagement and a sense of community. This article analyses the effects of citizen participation on public engagement in four local citizens’ summits in the Netherlands based on a combination of survey data, interviews and documents. The citizens’ summits appear to attract a selective group of predominantly highly educated citizens from a Dutch background. Of the citizens who took part in the summits, only a minority felt more connected and responsible after having participated. Moreover, the results show that over the longer term, the number of people who remain involved in public initiatives decreases. The findings raise doubts about the contribution of participation in one-off forums to public engagement. A sense of public engagement seems to be more a precondition for participation rather than a consequence of participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-227
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date30 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Citizen participation
  • democratic innovation
  • public engagement
  • public initiative


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