Today’s and tomorrow’s relation between citizens and governments

On 20 January 2018, fourteen citizens (diverse in terms of age, education and socio-economic backgrounds) met at MediaLab-Prado, Madrid, to discuss and map – through Design Thinking methodologies – the changing relationships among citizens, governments, and other stakeholders.

The workshop,  a part of The Future of Government 2030 project, started by mapping relations between citizens, stakeholders and governments today. Participants chose four issues of interests: 1) Youth and senior unemployment; 2) Services and resources for handicapped and dependant persons; 3) Public transport; and 4) Data management. They mapped the relationships of all stakeholders involved in public services and decision making processes, and evaluated how good or bad they were.

In all maps, citizens showed a high level of discomfort with public services, perceiving that politicians and decision-makers are inaccessible and unable to fulfil their responsibilities.

Stakeholders' mapping

The next step was to imagine the future and to identify the major changes that would occur in the following 15 years. In general, citizens had positive perceptions: more humanised, sustainable and connected to Earth future; and, politically, more deliberative and inclusive. Nonetheless, the fear of robotisation, extinction of jobs, bigger socio-economic divides and the increased power given to corporations are of great concern among citizens.

So, how did they believe these public services and decision-making processes should be? How these problems could be solved? The third part of the workshop aimed to map the ideal relations among citizens, stakeholders and governments in the future.

For participants, technologies like blockchain, participatory platforms, social media, open data or artificial intelligence will have an important role guaranteeing the quality and the efficiency of public services and allowing citizens’ participation in decision-making processes.

Participants of the workshop


Governments should be sovereign (above companies) and transparent. Politicians should promote and provide digitalized public services, guaranteeing their quality and efficiency. They should also ensure citizens’ rights and security.

But they also expressed the need of a responsible and critical citizenship, one aware of their surroundings, active in the decision-making system, proactive in problem-solving, participatory and civic-minded, watchful, aware, and well-informed.

Saya Sauliere & Rebeca Diez

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