Rodrigo Davies writes regularly on the topic of civic crowdfunding at the MIT Center for Civic Media blog, and his most recent post raises an important and interesting question: is crowdfunding participatory citizenship or a sign of institutions in decline?
He frames the question in his recent post…
“Civic crowdfunding is the beginning of a new type of participatory democracy for communities.”
“Civic crowdfunding is a triumph of individualism over the collective good.”
“Civic crowdfunding is the result of a crisis in government.”
These three divergent intepretations are among the most common responses to civic crowdfunding. I hear them in one form or another almost every time I give a talk on the topic. Despite their differences, these interpretations are also, for the moment, coexisting quite happily. Platforms and the people who use them don’t show much need to agree on what civic crowdfunding is for, or what kind of future its rise might foreshadow.
At the core of this questioning is conflicting messaging regarding why people participate on sites like Citizinvestor and Spacehive. Is it a move based in libertarian ideals, where citizens take control of their own surroundings and fund what they want to see happen? Is it indicative of the failure of government? All of the above?
Davies researched 274 civic crowdfunding campaigns seeking answers and presented his findings in the following YouTube video. Watch below…