Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


Centre for Digital Citizenship

In this section:


The CDC’s mission is to promote outstanding research on the changing nature of citizenship in a digitally networked society and to contribute to the analysis and development of policy in this area.

The CDC is a trusted source of independent critical analysis, with extensive international research connections and excellent relationships with policy-makers in the UK, Europe and globally. It is an interdisciplinary research centre, combining research across technological and social-scientific domains, and theoretical, empirical and practice-based research.

The Centre builds on its reputation by:

  • developing and participating in research networks, programmes and projects;
  • disseminating research findings through our website and publications;
  • acting as a forum for academic and public debate by organising seminars, conferences and other events;
  • contributing to the design and development as well as the evaluation of social technologies in order to grasp better their future potential;
  • engaging with policy-makers to understand and respond more effectively to the challenges and opportunities digital media poses for citizenship

For more information about the Centre, please contact:

Professor Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communications and Co-Director of the CdC – s.coleman@leeds.ac.uk


Professor Ann Macintosh, Professor of Digital Governance and Co-Director of the CdC – a.macintosh@leeds.ac.uk

Our postal address is:

The School of Media and Communication
Clothworkers’ Building North
University of Leeds

Projects & Activities

EU – IMPACT: Integrated Method for Policy making using Argument modelling and Computer assisted Text analysis

This project aims to advance the state-of-the-art of information and communications technology for policy modelling and online public participation in policy deliberations. The project takes the view that policy deliberations are a kind of argumentation dialogue, following the theory of argumentation of the philosopher Douglas Walton, to be modelled using techniques developed in the field of computational models of argument. Software methods and tools for constructing, evaluating, and visualizing arguments will be applied and further developed to meet the challenges of large-scale public deliberations on the Internet. The work at the School of Media and Communication will focus on how to visualize arguments about policy and the relationships between arguments and policies. This is a collaborative project funded by the European Commission. The other partners are: Fraunhofer (lead partner), University of Amsterdam, University of Liverpool, and two companies specialising in user interface design (User Interface Design GMBH) and online consultations (Zebralog GmbH & Co KG). For more information visit http://www.policy-impact.eu.

NSF/EU – Online Consultation and Public Policy-making working Group

This international digital government research working group aims to evaluate the policy and other social impacts of online citizen consultation initiatives aimed at influencing actual government decision making, and examine how the design of these types of initiatives is affected by cultural, social, legal, and institutional contexts. The group is one of only four to receive funding to advance digital government research on issues that cross national boundaries, made possible through a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Digital Research Program. The group is co-chaired by Peter Shane, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University, USA, and Stephen Coleman, University of Leeds, UK. For more information visit http://www.ctg.albany.edu/projects/dgi?proj=dgi?=research§ion=online.

AHRC- The Road to Voting: an interdisciplinary study of the aesthetic and affective dimensions of voting

Although the right to vote remains the most symbolically significant characteristic of contemporary liberal democracies, there has been a general neglect of key aspects of the voting experience. This project redresses this omission in an original series of art works that will both inform and be informed by a social science research context. Endorsing the concept that artistic practice is a form of theory and the desire to make different disciplines legible to each other, we are exploring the aesthetic and affective dimensions of voting in its various existing and counterfactual forms. We are particularly interested in ways of designing voting so that citizens and non-citizens, voters and non-voters can express themselves in ways that they find more fully representative than current voting arrangements. Such reconfiguration might involve new issues to be voted upon; new ways of designing voting environments (from tea and buns in the polling station to art exhibitions along the road to voting) or, perhaps even, a more explicit commitment to ritual practices surrounding the ballot.

EU – Study and supply of services on the development of eParticipation in the EU

The aim of this study is to produce recommendations that can assist the European Parliament and the European Commission in harnessing the benefits of ITC for better legislation and better decision-making primarily at the European scale, and for enhanced public participation in such processes. The more detailed goals are to:

  • Understand how to support stakeholder to stakeholder dialogue
  • Understand how to support EU dialogue with stakeholders
  • Map and identify the role of EU vis-a vis other stakeholders and national and regional initiatives
  • Assist the EU and EP in designing the way forward using eParticipation
  • Provide input and steer to the wider work of the eParticipation initiative and help prepare for the next work
  • Support other existing programmes which set out the overall direction for EU ICT activities, such as i2010, the eGovernment Action Plan, and the CIP.

The core consortium consists of three partners, on equal standing, with the Danish Technological Institute as project co-ordinator, the University of Macedonia (Greece), and ourselves. For more information visit http://www.european-eparticipation.eu. The project also manages the eParticipation and eDemocracy Network on the EU’s ePractice website. For more information visit http://www.epractice.eu/community/13

EU – DEMO-net: The Democracy Network

The DEMO-net Network of Excellence promotes and develops, through a focussed and integrated research programme, technological and socio-technical excellence in the emerging field of e-Participation. It builds on the experience accumulated by leading European research organisations that have studied the underlying principles of e-Participation and actively worked with governments across Europe in applying and evaluating e-Participation. The ultimate DEMO-net aim is to establish a sustainable network of excellence in the area of eParticipation. To achieve this aim DEMO-net has set four main objectives:

  • To achieve a lasting integration of currently fragmented research in eParticipation
  • To stimulate joint research in DEMO-net’s agreed research areas
  • To disseminate DEMO-net research amongst eParticipation stakeholders
  • To provide a barometer of research effectiveness for eParticipation in Europe by establishing a corpus of lessons-learnt resource to show what kind of projects have delivered what kind of results and thereby considered effective for eParticipation.

The DEMO-net project has four main project areas:

  • Integration which enables DEMO-net partners to work together in an efficient and effective manner and supports long term sustainability through the technical infrastructure of a virtual resource centre based on an agreed business plan.
  • Joint Research Programme which facilitates understanding and implementation of eParticipation by developing new eParticipation research tools and platforms for common use, generating new knowledge to fill gaps and extending the collective knowledge portfolio of the network.
  • Spreading of Excellence which disseminates the project’s results and identifies and works with stakeholders through its eParticipation Community of Practice
  • Project Management which undertakes administrative, financial and scientific management of the network. The consortium comprises 20 partners from countries across Europe. For more information visit www.Demo-net.org


Professor Stephen Coleman – Co-Director of the CdC and Professor of Political Communications

Professor Ann Macintosh – Co-Director of the CdC and Professor of Digital Governance

Professor David Morrison – Professor of Communications Research

Chris Birchall – Research Associate

Dr Helen Kennedy – Senior Lecturer in New Media

Dr Stephen Lax – Senior Lecturer in Communications Technology

Dr Giles Moss – Lecturer in Media Policy


eParticipation Study

Smith, S., Macintosh, A. & Millard, J. (2009). European eParticipation D1.1c: “Major factors shaping the development of eParticipation – final version.”

Abstract: This analytical framework attempts to identify the key variables in eParticipation at the European scale, distinguishing between factors which lie at least partly within the control of the stakeholders in an eParticipation initiative (within the ‘system boundary’) and factors which are largely external (some acting as drivers, others as barriers). Additionally it differentiates aspects of eParticipation which are aligned with the goal-setting strategic rationality of a governance regime from those aspects of eParticipation which are relatively insulated from these power relations, responding to the autonomous needs of social actors. It uses an impact assessment framework similar to that used by the EC, thus distinguishing between different levels of goals – outputs, outcomes and impacts – which eParticipation might contribute towards. Whereas the lower-level goals (project outputs) are project-specific and usually short-term and measurable, the mid-level goals (outcomes of participation) can accrue to a wider groups of key actors and beneficiaries in the political and public policy sphere (e.g. through legislation, policy development, policy-making, decision-making) and the top-level goals (societal impacts) are largely defined in relation to public values that have been identified as important features or ambitions in European governance, meaning principally the high-level policy goals of EU institutions, notably those put forward in the White Paper on Governance such as the ‘culture of consultation and dialogue’ and components of good governance to which participation is strongly related such as openness, accountability, effectiveness and coherence, as well as some policy goals which may seem less directly relevant to participation, such as social inclusion. The analytical framework also employs the notion of an intervention logic, which specifies the types of actions necessary to successfully initiate and manage the participation process by the project owner, and to minimise the risks and maximise possible synergies with external factors (which means to embed the initiative in its social, political, cultural, economic, legal and institutional environment).

Smith, S. (2008). European eParticipation D1.2a: “Key actors in the EU in the field of eParticipation”

Abstract: This deliverable presents an overview of the key actors in the field of eParticipation in the EU, which have been gathered from four sources: (a) organisations and institutions identified as performing some level of eParticipation in D1.4a. (b) members of the current study’s eParticipation Practitioner Network, (c) partners in DEMO-net, the eParticipation Network of Excellence funded under the EC’s Sixth Framework Programme; PEP-NET, a European Network of Stakeholders in eParticipation funded by the EC as a thematic network; and the eParticipation Preparatory Action initiated by the European Parliament, and (d) other actors who attended the first study workshop

Smith, S. (2008). European eParticipation D1.3a: “Main benefits of eParticipation developments in the EU”

Abstract: This is the first draft of a deliverable about the benefits of eParticipation in policy making at the European scale. The second version is due in October 2008 and the final version in March 2009. This draft should therefore be seen as an initial step towards a more definitive statement on what are the main benefits of European eParticipation. Here we present both a literature review and a scoping exercise, designed above all to properly contextualise the benefits of participation and eParticipation with reference to democratic norms associated with the governance regimes which participation activities are expected to co-exist with or to co-shape.


Lippa, B., Aichholzer, G., Allutter, D., Freschi, A. C., Macintosh, A. Moss, G., and Westholm, H. (2008)  Demo-Net Deliverable 13.3: “eParticipation Evaluation and Impact”
Abstract:This booklet presents a study of how to evaluate eParticipation. The main objective is to identify the relevant elements of existing approaches to evaluation and to develop them on the basis of a coherent and comprehensive eParticipation evaluation framework. The document describes the key issues and questions that evaluation research must address, and presents a layered model of eParticipation evaluation, which includes three important perspectives (project, socio-technical, and democratic perspectives), related evaluation criteria, and possible research indicators and methods. The main factors that influence evaluation will be outlined and three general types of evaluation design discussed. Moreover, common methods used in evaluation research are described and some salient quality issues are addressed. Finally, three case examples illustrate how evaluation designs operate in practice.

Coleman, S., Macintosh, A. & Schneeberger, A. (2008) Demo-Net Deliverable 12.3: “eParticipation Research Direction based on barriers, challenges and needs”

Abstract: In this report we identify future research priorities for eParticipation researchers. We do this by first setting the context by providing the trajectory of eParticipation from its early days to current practice. We then consider this current situation and analyse the challenges facing future research. With an understanding of barriers and challenges we then consider the expertise within the DEMO-net partnership so as to understand the appropriate research challenges to take forward in Phase 3 of DEMO-net.

Gordon, T., Macintosh, A. & Renton, A. (2006). Demo-Net D5.2.2: “Argumentation Support Systems for eParticipation”

Abstract: As governments seek to consult their citizens over matters of policy, it becomes increasingly important that citizens receive the relevant information in a medium that they can, and will, want to use in forming their opinion upon consultative issues. This report presents argumentation support systems and sample eParticipation application scenarios of these systems, in order to assess their potential contribution to the consultation process. The systems presented cover techniques for the presentation of complex information in a thematically arranged format, for identifying those issues that generate a significant response, for collating consultation responses and representing them within an argument structure, and for checking upon the consistency of contributions to a debate. As such, argumentation support systems have something valuable to offer both government and civil Society.

Macintosh, A. & Coleman, S. (2006). Demo-net D4.2: “Multidisciplinary roadmap and report on eParticipation research”

Abstract: This is the second deliverable of WP4 “Setting challenges”. The overarching objective of this workpackage is to identify and respond to developing global research and innovation challenges in the field of eParticipation.  The work involves analysing the European eParticipation research landscape in order to develop research agendas and roadmaps to govern the direction and future evolution of the network.  Our recommendations are based on the findings from our global survey and research workshops. These are concerned with, firstly, the range of academic disciplines studying eParticipation, secondly, the similarities and differences on research emphasis between Europe and North America and thirdly, both the research and real-world fragmentation of the eParticipation area.

Workshop Reports




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