As different forms of citizen participation have started to transform their governance cultures, cities have emerged as vital political arenas and laboratories for the development of European political life and public sphere and the promotion of inclusion, social agendas and active citizenship. Cities have also emerged as promoters of social agendas neglected or marginalised by national and international politics.
Against this background, and departing from a bottom-up and practice-oriented perspective on political innovation, EUARENAS investigates the ways in which social movements coupled with local government reform initiatives, manifesting themselves in local-level experiments, create momentum for political change that include more inclusive and participatory forms of governance. The knowledge gained and lessons learned from the project, particularly on concrete practices to strengthen participative and deliberative democracy in urban settings, will help to address the increasingly apparent and widening gap between political decision-making processes and citizens in the EU and beyond.
In other words, the project responds to a major European challenge – the need to strengthen legitimacy, identification and engagement within the democratic public sphere.
EUARENAS is not your typical academic research project. It transcends the boundaries of academic disciplines and professional specialization to develop a more comprehensive focus on social change and social learning. It is also intersectoral, bringing together practitioners, civil society activists and promoters of citizen participation and engaged universities.