Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Learning from informality? Rethinking the mismatch between formal policy strategies and informal tactics of citizenship

an article by Nanke Verloo (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) published in Current Sociology Volume 65 Issue 2 (March 2017)


Democratic governance is increasingly focused on active citizenship. Governments in the Global North seek to make residents responsible for improving their communities.

Democracy, however, is not solely experienced in abstract terms, it also materializes through more informal everyday interactions with public officials.

This article explores the significance of routine and performative street-level encounters that shape people’s experience of belonging or exclusion in a democratic state through a methodology of narrative mapping.

Two ethnographic vignettes reveal the disjuncture between formal policy strategies that seek to foster citizenship and residents’ informal tactics to perform citizenship in an urban neighborhood in the Netherlands.

The article underscores a paradox: the fact that formal strategies can inadvertently disrupt informal citizenship tactics, and thereby undermine the goals of an inclusive project.

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