Design principles for re-engaging disaffected citizens

John Buckley

18 Apr 2018, 2:45 p.m.
Auditorium 1

Working with academic partners at the University of Limerick, National College of Art and Design and IADT Dun Laoghaire, John leads a collaboration which explores societal issues through human-centred design, called DesignFix. Throughout 2017, this collaboration focused on the rise of anti-government populism. The team, along with students from the above institutions, followed a design process to understand root causes of this growing public sentiment and means of reversing its spread.

To understand the human aspect of this challenge, they interviewed a range of stakeholders; disaffected citizens, policymakers and government officials. Through these discussions they were able to identify an overwhelming lack of empathy among the citizens, and a frustration amongst policymakers who struggle to communicate with their constituents. Expert interviews and a literature review further compounded communication as a key aspect of this divergence. Economic hardships further contribute to the dismay of the citizen, with the have-nots increasingly feeling left behind. As our economic models transition over the next half-century this community will surely grow.

Our public institutions receive their legitimacy through public trust, and so they must react to the changing environments around them. Technology has shifted public expectations; citizens expect to tweet at large corporations and receive responses within a matter of hours. In this new environment, government (which by right should be the most responsive institution in our society) feels more distant to the public than ever before.

‘Rules of Engagement’ establishes design principles to guide how Civic Tech and Open Government practitioners might encourage buy-in and adoption from internal stakeholders (such as policymakers), consider the actual needs of citizens (particularly disaffected citizens), and realise the potential of civic dialogue in returning public trust.

White paper:

Watch the Q&A for this session here.



Design principles for re-engaging disaffected citizens (John Buckley - from mysociety