Institutionalising participation
The implementation of a civic web platform

Daniel Curto-Millet

Marie Curie Fellow @ Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 744957

Framing of study

Collision between political theory, information systems, urban studies, organisation studies, and management

(1) How can participation evolve in time?
(2) How is participation organised?

Participation is a complex process

Background on participation (1)

Too much emphasis on the discursive features of participation actually give too much weight to the normative claims—and not enough to the mechanics of institutionalization that seem to almost inevitably lead to an experience of co-optation

Kelty (2016, S88)

Background on participation (2)

Participation has certain qualities

  • Additive (wisdom of the crowd)
  • Integrative (best participation can be selected)


Epistemological consequences

  • Participation is rational, universal


Do these qualities match with Kelty's quote?

the mechanics of institutionalization that seem to almost inevitably lead to an experience of co-optation


Resourcing theory (Feldman, 2004)

  • Resources are enacted through schemas
  • Schemas are mental models held by individuals and groups of their own and the organisation's purpose
  • Schemas are acted on to guide change



  • Resources take time in being created
  • Resources may not correspond to the original schema
  • Resources may encourage or impede further resourcing


Explains organisational change through resource creation


Longitudinal (2015-2019) and inductive research

Part of a bigger project, looking at different facets

Multiple data collection methods

Still ongoing!

Decide Madrid: A Quioxitic case?

Launched in 2015

Purpose: change social relations in the city through participation

Open source project currently implemented in +100 cities

Received the UN public service award in 2018

Functionality: citizen proposals, debates, participative budgeting

Proposals are a big thing

Analysis (overview)

Democracy does not work for everyone

Everyone can propose almost anything

Decide does not reach


Proposals are problematic

Citizen observatory




Analysis (Cycle 1)

Occupy movement: democracy does not work for everyone

Decide is built without representation

Create a participatory space away from traditional politics

Analysis (Cycle 2)

Everyone can propose on Decide

Proposals are problematic

No requirement for proposal-making

Analysis (Cycle 3)

Decide does not reach

Create the Citizen Observatory

Change Decide


Participation as every body, any how, any when, affective

Participation by representatives (embodied by stats), guided process, managed

Made with