Collective action by citizens’ initiatives: citizens’ initiatives as reflections of the capacity for collective action and a civil society

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisExternally prepared

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This doctoral dissertation delves into the dynamic interplay between citizens’ initiatives and governments. It aims to improve understanding of the collective action capacity of citizens' initiatives and to examine the often tense relationship with governments, which, while recognizing the value of such initiatives, may inadvertently hinder their effectiveness through well-intentioned but intrusive interventions.

Using a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates collective action theory, civil society literature, public value literature, and crowding theory, the study explores the complexities of self-organizing citizens' efforts and their interactions with government agencies.

Four research chapters describe the following findings:
1. Citizens' initiatives exhibit a subtle and nuanced tendency toward exclusivity.
2. The crowding effect is highly complex. Citizens’ Initiatives Stimulation funds enable initiators to achieve their goals but also make them dependent on the funds.
3. There are four distinctive views on the value of citizens' initiatives. The common denominator of these views is ‘selfish collectivism’ challenging the notion that they must be purely altruistic to be valuable.
4. Finally, people solve the collective action problems of citizens’ initiatives by broadcasting their willingness to cooperate when given the opportunity.

This work offers valuable insights for policymakers, researchers, and practitioners interested in fostering effective collaboration between citizens' initiatives and governments, hopefully contributing to a more fitting relationship between governments and civil society.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Fenger, Menno, Supervisor
  • van Buuren, Arwin, Supervisor
Award date6 Jun 2024
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs978-94-6483-954-8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2024

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