Civic Creativity: Democracy as a Platform for Our Public Projects

For my senior thesis, I wrote a piece called Civic Creativity: Democracy as a Platform for Our Public Projects.  You can download the work here.

Here’s a summary from within the work:

The first big idea is that, for the individual citizen, there is a new mode of civic action – independent of voting, deliberating, and protest – which I call: civic creativity. It is defined as “the imagining and implementing of public projects over multiple platforms.”  In Part 1, I will describe the history of the three commonplace modes of civic action (voting, deliberating and protest), define civic creativity as new mode of civic action, and compare civic creativity to the other three modes.

The second big idea is that the individual act of civic creativity, being a social and collective practice, has ramifications for our understanding of democratic society as a whole— that there is a new way to understand democratic governance that goes hand-in-hand with this new mode of civic action: democracy as a platform for our public projects. In Part 2, I will describe this new way of thinking. In this understanding, governance is not just Government— the institution commonly referred to as the government is not the only force that governs our lives. Rather, the model acknowledge that a network of various institutions – the media, corporations, religion, web platform architecture, culture, language, neighbors, foundations, universities, civic groups, and more – also govern our lives. Each of these governing forces are themselves governed by rules. To turn a civic creation idea into a reality, you must navigate the various “platforms of governance,” convincing various people and entities that your creations and purposes are worthy of their support.

Plus, here’s the table of contents to pique your interest:

Introduction: A New Paradigm Shift in Democratic Theory

  1. Strange civic actions
  2. A disconnect between such actions and common civic concepts
  3. Paradigm shifts in democratic theory.
  4. Outline of the argument for a new democratic model

Part 1: A New Mode of Civic Action 15

  1. Beyond civic engagement finger-wagging
  2. The three dominant modes of civic action: a history of voting, deliberation and protest
  3. Another turn in democratic thought
  4. Gaps in the three dominant modes of civic action
  5. How the three dominant modes capture and fail to capture the new civic actions
  6. Civic Creativity: A New Mode of Civic Action
    1. Spearheading instead of just participating
    2. Problem solving rather than law
    3. Decentralized work instead of a focus on the state
  7. A broader understanding of civic creativity

Part 2: A New Understanding of Democratic Governance 79

  1. The restricted spectrum of democratic models
  2. The restrictive assumption of the two models
  3. Democracy as a network of platforms of governance
    1. Governance is more than government 87
    2. Platforms of governance have their own specific rules and procedures 90
    3. Multi-platform governance and civic creators 92
    4. The ramifications of multi-platform governance 93
  4. Democracy as a platform for our public projects 96

Conclusion: On Generativity

I hope to develop these ideas into a book. You can follow progress on that book’s development here.

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