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My dissertation submitted as part of an MSc in Public Administration from the Institute of Local Government at the University of Birmingham.
It explores the citizen-state relationship and questions whether it is changing in response to the emergence of citizen produced websites. As the internet has matured, core characteristics of collaboration, transparency and flexibility have emerged. It is the contention of this dissertation that these changes have implications for the relationship between the public sector and private citizens. It considers the concepts of democracy, the provision of public goods and services and the cultures of the internet. The research is based on four case studies of citizen produced websites namely FixMyStreet.com, BCCDIY.com, OpenlyLocal.com and ArmchairAuditor.co.uk. Complementing these sites is consultation conducted with the residents of Hull that identified their attitudes towards the digital sphere. The dissertation finds that these websites are not being produced everywhere but argues that there is national resonance to what has happened already and concludes that they evidence a change in the relationship between citizen and state. It is the contention of this work that these websites are the embodiment of the coalition's ideal for Big Society that sees active citizens accepting the responsibility for local issues. The success, or otherwise, of this approach will depend on whether the public sector is willing to accept the mantle of leadership and do what is necessary by publishing data by default, engaging with concerned citizens and embracing the innovative approaches of the internet.