Democracy - Power to the People?

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Lea Amby Ottosen
4. term, Applied Philosophy, Master (Master Programme)
Today, our democracy is facing great challenges, as the society is developing into a more and more complex unit. This complexity can be difficult to navigate - in regards to both ourselves as individuals, but also for the democracy as a whole. In order to properly address the political and societal problems that comes with this development, drastic and important political decisions must be made.
When something becomes more complex and challenging, it can be beneficial to join forces in a community to bring more knowledge and experience to the table, to gain a new and more nuanced understanding of the complex, which in the end could benefit the development of the democracy. Democracy emerges in the community, and the community emerges in the interaction and communication between people.
Our society is facing a democratic problem. The willingness of the public to engage in the community is at an all-time low. The political apathy is ever increasing, while the voters’ faith and trust in the elected politicians continuously decreases. The democratic challenges with political apathy are not limited to Denmark, as citizens of EU and USA are also changing their ways, and populistic political parties are gaining strength in the political landscapes. The voters are feeling neither heard nor seen by their elected politicians, which can have drastic consequences, exemplified by the British exit from the European Union.
Political apathy is not a new phenomenon. In 1927, American philosopher, John Dewey, points out political apathy as a challenge to the democracy. Dewey is critical of the contemporary democracy, and shares his thoughts on the ideal democratic state, but has no distinct solution to reduce the political alienation among the people.
One such solution could be to use co-creation as a method for including the citizens in the democratic processes. As an example, it is evident that the governance of the public sector is moving from New Public Management towards New Public Government, where the citizens are much more involved in political decision-making.
Several Danish municipalities are already experimenting with co-creation, and this paper will present a number of examples of how the municipalities are using co-creation and citizen participation to create new and sustainable solutions in the society.
With co-creation, the citizens get an actual opportunity to affect the political direction. With a starting point in Dewey’s democratic thoughts and theories, this paper will investigate whether participatory processes such as co-creation can be a concrete solution to the political apathy.
Publication date3 Sept 2018
Number of pages68
ID: 286335368