Hyper-active Governance How Governments Manage the Politics of Expertise

Book by Matthew Wood: “Hyper-active governance is a new way of thinking about governing that puts debates over expertise at the heart. Contemporary governing requires delegation to experts, but also increases demands for political accountability. In this context, politicians and experts work together under political stress to adopt different governing relationships that appear more ‘hands-off’ or ‘hands-on’. These approaches often serve to displace profound social and economic crises. Only a genuinely collaborative approach to governing, with an inclusive approach to expertise, can create democratically legitimate and effective governance in our accelerating world. Using detailed case studies and global datasets in various policy areas including medicines, flooding, water resources, central banking and electoral administration, the book develops a new typology of modes of governing. Drawing from innovative social theory, it breathes new life into debates about expert forms of governance and how to achieve real paradigm shifts in how we govern our increasingly hyper-active world…(More)”.

Nudge, nudge, think, think: Experimenting with ways to change citizen behaviour

Book (New Second Edition) by Peter John, Sarah Cotterill, Alice Moseley, Liz Richardson, Graham Smith, Gerry Stoker and Corinne Wales: “How can governments persuade their citizens to act in socially beneficial ways? This ground-breaking book builds on the idea of ‘light touch interventions’ or ‘nudges’ proposed in Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s highly influential Nudge (2008). While recognising the power of this approach, it argues that an alternative also needs to be considered: a ‘think’ strategy that calls on citizens to decide their own priorities as part of a process of civic and democratic renewal. As well as setting out these divergent approaches in theory, the book provides evidence from a number of experiments to show how using ‘nudge’ or ‘think’ techniques works in practice.

Updated and rewritten, this second edition features a new epilogue that reflects on recent developments in nudge theory and practice, introducing a radical version of nudge, ‘nudge plus’. There is also a substantial prologue by Cass Sunstein….(More)”.

The Future of Democracy

Book by Ronald M. Glassman: “…This book focuses on the processes that help stabilize democracy. It provides a socio-historical analysis of the future prospects of democracy.

The link between advanced capitalism and democracy is emphasized, focusing on contract law and the separation of the economy from the state. The book also emphasizes the positive effects of the scientific world view on legal- rational authority. Aristotle’s theory of the majority middle class and its stabilizing effect on democracy is highlighted.

This book describes the face to face democracies of the past in order to give us a better perspective on the high tech democracies of the future, making it appealing to students and academics in the political and social sciences….(More)”.

Democracy (Re)Imagined

Chapter by Oldrich Bubak and Henry Jacek in Trivialization and Public Opinion: “Democracy (Re)Imagined begins with a brief review of opinion surveys, which, over the recent decades, indicate steady increases in the levels of mistrust of the media, skepticism of the government’s effectiveness, and the public’s antipathy toward politics. It thus continues to explore the realities and the logic behind these perspectives. What can be done to institute good governance and renew the faith in the democratic system? It is becoming evident that rather than relying on the idea of more democracy, governance for the new age is smart, bringing in people where they are most capable and engaged. Here, the focus is primarily on the United States providing an extreme case in the evolution of democratic systems and a rationale for revisiting the tenets of governance.

Earlier, we have identified some deep lapses in public discourse and alluded to a number of negative political and policy outcomes across the globe. It may thus not be a revelation that the past several decades have seen a disturbing trend apparent in the views and choices of people throughout the democratic world—a declining political confidence and trust in government. These have been observed in European nations, Canada as well as the United States, countries different in their political and social histories (Dalton 2017). Consider some numbers from a recent US poll, the 2016 Survey of American Political Culture. The survey found, for example, that 64% of the American public had little or no confidence in the federal government’s capacity to solve problems (up from 60% in 1996), while 56% believed “the government in Washington threatens the freedom of ordinary Americans.” About 88% of respondents thought “political events these days seem more like theater or entertainment than like something to be taken seriously” (up from 79% in 1996). As well, 75% of surveyed individuals thought that one cannot “believe much” the mainstream media content (Hunter and Bowman 2016). As in other countries, such numbers, consistent across polls, tell a story much different than responses collected half a century ago.

Some, unsurprised, argue citizens have always had a level of skepticism and mistrust toward their government but appreciated their regime legitimacy, a democratic capacity to exercise their will and choose a new government. However, other scholars are arriving at a more pessimistic conclusion: People have begun questioning the very foundations of their systems of government—the legitimacy of liberal democratic regimes. Foa and Mounk, for example, examined responses from three waves of cross-national surveys (1995–2014) focusing on indicators of regime legitimacy: “citizens’ express support for the system as a whole; the degree to which they support key institutions of liberal democracy, such as civil rights; their willingness to advance their political causes within the existing political system; and their openness to authoritarian alternatives such as military rule” (2016, 6). They find citizens to be not only progressively critical of their government but also “cynical about the value of democracy as a political system, less hopeful that anything they do might influence public policy, and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives” (2016, 7). The authors point out that in 2011, 24% of those born in the 1980s thought democracy 1 was a “bad” system for the US, while 26% of the same cohort believed it is unimportant 2 for people to “choose their leaders in free elections.” Also in 2011, 32% of respondents of all ages reported a preference for a “strong leader” who need not “bother with parliament and elections” (up from 24% in 1995). As well, Foa and Mounk (2016) observe a decrease in interest and participation in conventional (including voting and political party membership) and non-conventional political activities (such as participation in protests or social movement).

These responses only beckon more questions, particularly as some scholars believe that “[t]he changing values and skills of Western publics encourage a new type of assertive or engaged citizen who is skeptical about political elites and the institutions of representative democracy” (Dalton 2017, 391). In this and the next chapter, we explore the realities and the logic behind these perspectives. Is the current system working as intended? What can be done to renew the faith in government and citizenship? What can we learn from how public comes to their opinions? We focus primarily on the developments in the United States, providing an extreme case in an evolution of a democratic system and a rationale for revisiting the tenets of governance. We will begin to discern the roots of many of the above stances and see that regaining effectiveness and legitimacy in modern governance demands more than just “more democracy.” Governance for the new age is smart, bringing in citizens where they are most capable and engaged. But change will demand a proper understanding of the underlying problems and a collective awareness of the solutions. And getting there requires us to cope with trivialization….(More)”

The Right to the Datafied City: Interfacing the Urban Data Commons

Chapter by Michiel de Lange in The Right to the Smart City: “The current datafication of cities raises questions about what Lefebvre and many after him have called “the right to the city.” In this contribution, I investigate how the use of data for civic purposes may strengthen the “right to the datafied city,” that is, the degree to which different people engage and participate in shaping urban life and culture, and experience a sense of ownership. The notion of the commons acts as the prism to see how data may serve to foster this participatory “smart citizenship” around collective issues. This contribution critically engages with recent attempts to theorize the city as a commons. Instead of seeing the city as a whole as a commons, it proposes a more fine-grained perspective of the “commons-as-interface.” The “commons-as-interface,” it is argued, productively connects urban data to the human-level political agency implied by “the right to the city” through processes of translation and collectivization. The term is applied to three short case studies, to analyze how these processes engender a “right to the datafied city.” The contribution ends by considering the connections between two seemingly opposed discourses about the role of data in the smart city – the cybernetic view versus a humanist view. It is suggested that the commons-as-interface allows for more detailed investigations of mediation processes between data, human actors, and urban issues….(More)”.

Opening Data for Global Health

Chapter by Matt Laessig, Bryon Jacob and Carla AbouZahr in The Palgrave Handbook of Global Health Data Methods for Policy and Practice: “…provide best practices for organizations to adopt to disseminate data openly for others to use. They describe development of the open data movement and its rapid adoption by governments, non-governmental organizations, and research groups. The authors provide examples from the health sector—an early adopter—but acknowledge concerns specific to health relating to informed consent, intellectual property, and ownership of personal data. Drawing on their considerable contributions to the open data movement, Laessig and Jacob share their Open Data Progression Model. They describe six stages to make data open: from data collection, documentation of the data, opening the data, engaging the community of users, making the data interoperable, to finally linking the data….(More)”

Conformity: The Power of Social Influences

Book by Cass Sunstein: “We live in an era of tribalism, polarization, and intense social division—separating people along lines of religion, political conviction, race, ethnicity, and sometimes gender.  How did this happen? In Conformity, Cass R. Sunstein argues that the key to making sense of living in this fractured world lies in understanding the idea of conformity—what it is and how it works—as well as the countervailing force of dissent.

An understanding of conformity sheds new light on many issues confronting us today: the role of social media, the rise of fake news, the growth of authoritarianism, the success of Donald Trump, the functions of free speech, debates over immigration and the Supreme Court, and much more.

Lacking information of our own and seeking the good opinion of others, we often follow the crowd, but Sunstein shows that when individuals suppress their own instincts about what is true and what is right, it can lead to significant social harm. While dissenters tend to be seen as selfish individualists, dissent is actually an important means of correcting the natural human tendency toward conformity and has enormous social benefits in reducing extremism, encouraging critical thinking, and protecting freedom itself.

Sunstein concludes that while much of the time it is in the individual’s interest to follow the crowd, it is in the social interest for individuals to say and do what they think is best.  A well-functioning democracy depends on it….(More)”.

Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society: Refining Privacy Impact Assessment,

Book by Stefan Strauß: “This book offers an analysis of privacy impacts resulting from and reinforced by technology and discusses fundamental risks and challenges of protecting privacy in the digital age.

Privacy is among the most endangered “species” in our networked society: personal information is processed for various purposes beyond our control. Ultimately, this affects the natural interplay between privacy, personal identity and identification. This book investigates that interplay from a systemic, socio-technical perspective by combining research from the social and computer sciences. It sheds light on the basic functions of privacy, their relation to identity, and how they alter with digital identification practices. The analysis reveals a general privacy control dilemma of (digital) identification shaped by several interrelated socio-political, economic and technical factors. Uncontrolled increases in the identification modalities inherent to digital technology reinforce this dilemma and benefit surveillance practices, thereby complicating the detection of privacy risks and the creation of appropriate safeguards.

Easing this problem requires a novel approach to privacy impact assessment (PIA), and this book proposes an alternative PIA framework which, at its core, comprises a basic typology of (personally and technically) identifiable information. This approach contributes to the theoretical and practical understanding of privacy impacts and thus, to the development of more effective protection standards….(More)”.

Smart and Digital Cities: From Computational Intelligence to Applied Social Sciences

Book edited by Vitor Nazário Coelho, Igor Machado Coelho, Thays A.Oliveira and Luiz Satoru  Ochi: “This book presents up-to-date information on the future digital and smart cities. In particular, it describes novel insights about the use of computational intelligence techniques and decentralized technologies, covering urban aspects and services, cities governance and social sciences. The topics covered here range from state-of-the-art computational techniques to current discussions regarding drones, blockchain, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies.

The idealization of this material emerged with a journey of free knowledge exchange from a diverse group of authors, who met each other through four different events (workshops and special sessions) organized with the purpose of boosting the concepts surrounding smart cities.
We believe that this book comprises innovative and precise information regarding state-of-the-art applications and ideas for the future of cities and society. It will surely be useful not only for the academic community but also to the industry professionals and city managers….(More)”.

Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral Imagination

Book by Batya Friedman and David G. Hendry: “Implantable medical devices and human dignity. Private and secure access to information. Engineering projects that transform the Earth. Multigenerational information systems for international justice. How should designers, engineers, architects, policy makers, and others design such technology? Who should be involved and what values are implicated? In Value Sensitive Design, Batya Friedman and David Hendry describe how both moral and technical imagination can be brought to bear on the design of technology. With value sensitive design, under development for more than two decades, Friedman and Hendry bring together theory, methods, and applications for a design process that engages human values at every stage.

After presenting the theoretical foundations of value sensitive design, which lead to a deep rethinking of technical design, Friedman and Hendry explain seventeen methods, including stakeholder analysis, value scenarios, and multilifespan timelines. Following this, experts from ten application domains report on value sensitive design practice. Finally, Friedman and Hendry explore such open questions as the need for deeper investigation of indirect stakeholders and further method development….(More)”.