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Democracy as pothole repair: Civic applications and cyber-empowerment in Russia

Abstract : The article examines the phenomenon of so-called civic apps, applications for smartphones and web largely used by Russian social movements in their fight against corruption, roads in poor condition, street faults and other public problems. Developed by independent programmers and anti-Putin activists, these applications become a means of collective action and empowerment, redefining traditional repertoires of contention. They help citizens participate in public life by mapping, documenting and photographing different urban problems and hence enable citizen expertise and facilitate citizen control. The aim of this article is thus to understand how such small-scaled actions as pothole reporting or mapping street faults can become a means of empowerment and counter-democracy tools. The article is based on two years of field research and focuses on four cases of civic applications. Analyzing technical aspects, the genesis and design of these apps, the author provides an account of new repertoires of contention and new forms of citizenship created with the help of these tools.
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https://hal-mines-paristech.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01082779
Contributor : Catherine Lucas <>
Submitted on : Friday, November 14, 2014 - 12:21:29 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 9, 2020 - 5:08:22 PM

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Kseniia Ermoshina. Democracy as pothole repair: Civic applications and cyber-empowerment in Russia. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychological Research on Cyberspace, 2014, 8 (3), pp.4. ⟨10.5817/CP2014-3-4⟩. ⟨hal-01082779⟩

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