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Interpreting Patterns of Interaction between Civic Activism and Government Agency in Civic Crowdfunding Campaigns

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Addressing the under-researched interplay between civic activism and government agencies, this paper focuses on the conditions for broad local support for civic crowdfunding projects and the interaction between proponents of such projects, their associated stakeholders, and traditional urban planning frameworks. Building on Carolina Pacchi's work on the relationships between community and state in examples of local activism in European cities, the paper applies four types of relationship between community and state: state regulation and community implementation; cooperation; community autonomy; and community opposition. These are used to unpack the different phases of civic crowdfunding projects and to show how relationships with the state evolve throughout the lifecycle of a project. Drawing upon qualitative research carried out in London and Milan between 2015 and 2017, we examine the case of the Peckham Coal Line in south London, a proposed urban elevated park along a disused coal line. Chosen for its long-term ambitions, its substantial local support and financial backing through mayoral match-funding, the case is used to examine the dynamic interaction between the digitally enabled activism of civic crowdfunding and local government agencies. Our study of the development of the Peckham Coal Line project gives insight into the shifting nature of the relationship between civic actors and the state, showing that while the 'autonomous' development of local projects is an important aspect of civic crowdfunding projects, the state does not disappear. Further, online and offline activities are only one step in the redefinition of contemporary forms of citizenship and the claim that civic crowdfunding can deliver extended citizen participation should be more closely scrutinized.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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