Joint venture concerning citizens’ initiatives

In 2012, Movisie, Platform 31 and The Dutch ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) started a research project to collect questions concerning the development of citizens’ initiatives. It is called ‘Room for initiative’ and concerns itself with brokering information on citizens’ initiatives, matching practical questions with theoretical and academic knowledge.  


The aim of this joint venture is to gather practical questions concerning citizens’ initiatives. The aim of this process is to connect and combine these practical questions with knowledge from theoretical and scientific research.

The Netherlands are undergoing a huge transition. The responsibilities between government, market and civil society are shifting and citizens are expected and also motivated to take charge of their own lives. The development of citizens’ initiatives and active citizenship is a bottom up process that has been taking place during the last decades. Now the need for those initiatives is growing due to the fact that national government is decentralising its responsibilities in the field of care, youth care and employability to municipalities.  The economic crisis has forced governments to cut back the level of provisions. Municipalities are urged to combine an effective and efficient offer of support with empowerment and self-direction of citizens. 

In 2013 the three project members interviewed over 40 citizens’ initiatives, civil organisations and local municipalities about what they encounter when trying to support and realise citizens’ initiatives. A first analysis of these interviews shows several revolving issues which represent the questions from the practical grass root level of initiatives. Citizens, organisations and local governments try to find their way, in an environment of shifting responsibilities.

Their questions relate to the following issues:

  • What is the nature of the change that is going on? What will thefinal goal be? 
  • What type of democracy are we heading towards?
  • How will local governments deal with continuity, responsibility and accountability when citizens take charge?
  • What are the necessary conditions for self-management and shared management by citizens?
  • How will relationships, roles and cultures shift within the triangle of markets, state and civil society?
  • How does theory and research interrelate with practice at grass root level, how do citizens’ initiatives benefit from research efforts?

In the coming year, the knowledge broker will focus on reflection with scientists and citizens about the practical insights and innovative theories concerning these topics.

Organization: Movisie,
Contact person (at Movisie): Else Boss
Project partners: Platform 31 and The Dutch ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)
Funding organization: The Dutch ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)
Project period: 2012-2014