Virtual Communities and Social Participation

By: Márcia Maria de Medeiros Travassos Saeger   Júlio Afonso Sá De Pinho Neto  

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a mechanism of participative democracy set to promote a debate between society and the city administration to find the best way of using public resources and the public policies thereof. Thus, the discussions towards the implementation of such policies must be founded on shared knowledge and experience, a process in which the different social actors involved in this context can interact. In this scenario, the creation of virtual communities arises as a special feature, for they can assemble citizens with the objective of discussing budgeting as a community. Virtual communities are virtual settings able to stimulate a greater interaction among members, which promotes social participation. Such context of virtual settings applied to the PB motivated the development of this study. The objective of this exploratory and descriptive research – which developed from a case study – was to evaluate the Online version of the Participatory Budgeting in the city of João Pessoa, located in the state of Paraíba, Brazil. The study’s findings revealed that the implementation of the Online PB was only meant to learn the community’s demands through a virtual setting. However, opposite to the dialogical and participatory nature of the PB, the tool did not foster the interaction among participants that can further the collective discussion about the actual needs of each community. Such findings reveal the need to reformulate the Online PB to make it into a true virtual community, of dialogical character, which the PB of João Pessoa really needs.

Virtual Community, Participation
Technologies in Knowledge Sharing
Poster/Exhibit Session

Márcia Maria de Medeiros Travassos Saeger

Júlio Afonso Sá De Pinho Neto

Associate Professor III, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Federal University of Paraíba - Brazil, Brazil
Paraíba, Brazil