Digital Citizenship

Citizenship Gamification


At the core of the institution of citizenship lies civic virtue and political participation. In the past years, there have been attempts to use technology to motivate good citizenship through the creation of a catalog of “good deeds.” Examples of good deeds include voting, assisting the elderly, seeking professional training, organizing cultural events, and undergoing self-employment workshops. According to this approach, local citizens should choose and implement a good deed from a municipal catalogue, which will be recorded and scored; based on the score, each citizen will receive a reward from a parallel catalogue of “municipal benefits.” Rewards may include free public transportation and bicycle rental, tickets to events, and reduced municipal housing. The idea is to use financial incentives to motivate civic engagement, social solidarity, and volunteer work with the hope that, over time, the incentives will create a culture of communal activism in the city. Variations of this idea, based on Ethereum cryptocurrency, exist in Barcelona (SocialCoin) and Hull (HullCoin).

The project asks three questions: [1] Empirical: what are the current trends in the emerging phenomenon of citizenship gamification?; [2] Ethical: is motivating “good citizenship” through economic incentives, rather than moral education, justified?; [3] Psychological: is gamification effective in cultivating habits (based on behavioral economics and motivation crowding theory), and what are its societal side effects? On the whole, the project brings to the fore core questions related to digital demos and investigates ethical implications of citizenship gamification.