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Den lyssnande kommunen: Om medborgardialog ur förtroendevaldas, tjänstemäns och medborgares perspektiv
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Political, Historical, Religious and Cultural Studies.
2016 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
The Listening Municipality : On Civil Dialogue from Politicians, Clerks and Citizens’ Perspective (English)
Abstract [sv]

For the last decades, the party memberships in Sweden have decreased from 600.000 to 300.000, although the general interest in politics have been stable during the same period. This situation can be percieved as a threat to swedish democracy; if the political parties are loosing contact with the citizens, the parties will also face the risk of not being able to canalize the views of the citizens. If that’s the case, the represenative democracy might loose legitimacy. These conclusions have triggered local municipalities in Sweden to launch ”civil dialogue”, innovative ways to include the citizens in public projects and welfare services, with the purpose to re-establish connection and trust between the public and civil sector. However, political studies suggest that civil dialogue rarely have succeeded to strenghtened democracy. In some cases, civil dialogue seemed to hurt trust and legitimacy in local municipalities. That makes the civil dialogue phenomenon interesting – how can attempts to reinforce trust and democracy result in a backfire? What in the core of civil dialogue might catalyze this backlash?

   The nature of civil dialogue suggest that cooperation between the public and civil sphere is becoming more acceptable, even desirable, in swedish politics. This development breaks with the traditional ways of public administration and bureaucracy in Sweden. However, the cooperation between the public and civil sphere is also the core of a new broad trend in public administration and governing, namely ”governace”. Governance refers to a way of adminstrating public affairs by the logic of networks, including the civil society in the public affairs with the purpose of making the public administration more effective and to find creative solutions on new problems. The first aim of this study is to recieve a new understanding how the subjective experiences of civil dialogue participants can affect legitimacy and trust, by analyzing the experiences of participants in a failed dialogue. The second aim is to explore wether civil dialogue is better understood as a part of a new broad trend in public buraucracy, governance, rather than more traditional bureaucracy. These aims are fulfilled using a case study, which has a swedish local municipality, Sunne, in focus.

   The results of the study suggests that none of the participants of the civil dialogue in Sunne experienced that they had ”been listened to”, which seems to be an important cause behind the negative result of the specific dialogue. The innovativeand failed attempt to strengthen the legitimacy of local democracy resulted in a negative reaction through the traditional channels of political participation. The study also suggests that civil dialogue and governace have some similarities regarding their main principles of value and general logic, but since the municipality of Sunne didn’t implement the steering logics of civil dialogue in its full practice, it’s hard to judge wether it should be perceived as governance or not.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 33 p.
Keyword [sv]
Medborgardialog Sverige, svensk politik, legitimitet, förvaltning, governance
National Category
Public Administration Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-45810OAI: diva2:967346
Subject / course
Political Science
Educational program
Political Science (180 ECTS credits)
Available from: 2016-09-28 Created: 2016-09-08 Last updated: 2016-09-28Bibliographically approved

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