The Implications of COVID-19 for Concepts and Practices of Citizenship

Moon and ChoJae M. Moon and Shine B. Cho

Recently, there has been growing interest in the nature and scope of citizens’ roles in addressing complex wicked policy problems which perhaps has piqued during the COVID-19 global pandemic. This is largely due to recognition by governments and businesses that they cannot effectively solve seemingly persistent and intractable societal problems without active and voluntary participation from a range of policy actors, including citizens.

For the past several decades, scholars have revealed the evolving roles of citizens in policy and politics from recipients to coproducers of public services, from passively informed individuals to active information seekers and providers, and from participants in policy decision-making processes to direct decision-makers. Meanwhile, the concept of citizenship has evolved from legal status to an identity comprising several dimensions, such as formal, political, economic, and social citizenship. Nevertheless, the term citizen in research on public administration and politics has often been used arbitrarily, despite continued changes in the roles of citizens in society.

In our recent article in Policy & Politics, we conduct a three-stage literature review to investigate the evolving concept of citizenship and citizen participation in the field of public administration and policy studies. On the basis of our findings we discuss which forms of citizenship and citizen participation are needed in the COVID-19 pandemic. First, our study reviews the evolving concept of citizenship, which has not been discussed much recently in this field despite its increasing significance. Second, it reviews the research on citizenship and citizen participation based on the Web of Science Core Collection’s citation report of selected journal publications. Then, regarding wicked problems, it conducts a systematic review of the latest empirical research about citizen participation published between 2018 and 2020.

Our results reveal various dimensions of the concept of citizenship and demonstrate what ‘citizen’ refers to in the latest citizen participation studies. They also demonstrate how the concept of citizenship has expanded to include marginalised groups that were not previously considered mainstream in discussions about citizens.

Our study also demonstrates the expanding roles of citizens in a society facing increasingly wicked policy problems. Based on our findings and empirical evidence, we argue that the current pandemic will result in a return of citizens with an expectation that the voluntary, engaged and active participation of citizens and co-production practices will be increasingly demanded and critical in mitigating COVID-19.

In summary, our article makes a contribution to the policy literature through its insights into public participation, and elucidates the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the concepts and practices of citizenship.

You can read the original research in Policy & Politics

Jae M. Moon and Shine B. Cho (2022) The implications of COVID-19 for concepts and practices of citizenship Policy and Politics DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/030557321X16366464230797


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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blog post authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Policy & Politics, the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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