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Power Participation in Digital Citizen Engagement in South African Local Government: The Case of MOBISAM

by   Caroline Khene, et al.

A lack of service delivery and accountability are two characteristic challenges of numerous municipalities (local government) in South Africa. MobiSAM was introduced as a collaborative effort between a local university, civil society, residents, and local government to grow digital citizen engagement, facilitate two-way communication between local government and its citizenry, and contribute to the improved provision of basic services. Through the course of the project, it became clear that power, with respect to knowledge, was at play in the interactions or lack thereof between local government and citizens. This work-in-progress paper begins the journey of exploration of the power/knowledge dynamics at play in the MobiSAM project (using the SECI model and the Power Cube) by unpacking and understanding the nature of knowledge processed in the project and the associated knowledge creation processes that ensued between the different project stakeholders over time. The influence of power in determining the effective transfer of knowledge between key stakeholders of the project, for capacity building and organisational learning has emerged as an important issue in need of thorough investigation and critical analysis. This work in progress paper presents the preliminary framing of the research findings on the phases associated with the interplay of knowledge and power in the MobiSAM project, which are: 1) Realisation, 2) Navigating Responsiveness, and 3) Emergence.


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