Citizen knowledge, citizen competence, and democracy building

Publication year: 

This paper is concerned with the notion of developing effective citizenship and democracy building through participation and how power or lack of it plays a key role in the degree to which citizens are able to actively participate. The author considers that there are different approaches towards overcoming powerlessness, according to different dimensions of power, which then lead to developing citizenship and democracies. The first view describes power as a product that can be won by anybody who chooses to participate. Thus, citizenship can be developed through developing political and advocacy skills. The second is concerned with systematic barriers that do not allow people access to participate and thus to power. In this case, the focus is on strategies to gain access into the political arena with an emphasis on who participates, and not just how to. The third dimension is concerned with power as knowledge and consciousness - thus, what people participate about is crucial and forms of political education and awareness building is emphasised. The author advocates that all three dimensions must be combined and addressed in order overcome the challenges to citizenship and participatory democracy.

Source publication information
Chapter 3
Citizen competence and democratic institutions
Pennsylvania State University Press
Stephen L. Elkin and Karole Edward Soltan
Publisher reference: 
Pennsylvania State University Press