Novel forms of governance with high levels of civic self-reliance

Thesis by Hiska Ubels: “Enduring depopulation and ageing have affected the liveability of many of the smaller villages in the more peripheral rural municipalities of the Netherlands. Combined with a general climate of austerity and structural public budget cuts, this has led to the search of both communities and local governments for solutions in which citizens take and obtain more responsibilities and higher levels of local autonomy in dealing with local liveability challenges.

This PhD-thesis explores how novel forms of governance with high levels of civic self-reliance can be understood from the perspectives of the involved residents, local governments and the supposed beneficiaries. It also discusses the dynamics, potentials and limitations that come to the fore. To achieve this, firstly, it focusses on the development of role shifts of responsibilities and decision-making power between local governments and citizens in experimental governance initiatives over time and the main factors that enhance and obstruct higher levels of civic autonomy. Then it investigates the influence of government involvement on a civic initiatives’ organisation structure and governance process, and by doing so on the key conditions of its civic self-steering capacity. In addition, it examines how novel governance forms with citizens in the lead are experienced by the community members to whose community liveability they are supposed to contribute. Lastly, it explores the reasons why citizens do not engage in such initiatives….(More)”.