Citizens and institutions: Hammersley's recipe

From proclaiming to confrontation, from speeches to dialogue, from one-way information to interactive communication: necessary and mandatory steps that European Institutions must take in order not to compromise their own survival. These are Ben Hammersley's words

 “Many Institutions still believe that “to communicate” simply means to give a nice speech or to write a good press release. Nonetheless, nowadays everyone realizes the Internet and digital technologies are allowing a two-way communication: we can both speak to and listen to each other”. This is what the journalist and theorist of Internet socio-cultural effects, known for coining the term “podcasting”, Ben Hammersley, claims.

During his interview at the ICS Local summit held in Milan last November 28th, Hammersley pointed out the gap between the institutions’ communication approach, still closed and unilateral, and citizens’ one, more open and interactive, particularly after the last ten years when citizens have learned to express their own opinions, thus understanding how they really matter to others.

“Institutions – Hammersley explains – are hindering the progressive redefinition of the balance of powers in favour of citizens. This quarrel elicits great tension between institutional “ways” and citizens’ expectations”. According to Hammersley, this divide has engendered some socio-political phenomena, such as the Five Star Movement in Italy and the worldwide “Occupy”.

He believes the citizen’s role is so important for contemporary society that only those institutions able to involve their people and make them feel as key players in the “game of public affairs” will have a chance for survival: “We are witnessing the positive evolution of some wise and smart institutions that are favouring this change. Those trying to fight against it are doomed to failure”.



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