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Conference on the gap between government and citizens

It’s often said that citizens have lost trust in their governments. But who exactly are these ‘citizens’? And which aspects of people’s contact with government agencies work better than others? These questions will be discussed at the Crafting Resilience conference (working language is English) on 30 March. Everyone is welcome.

The state is responsible for developing policy that addresses matters like inequality and poverty. But there is a wide gap between governments and their citizens. Governments want to bridge this gap by collaborating more with citizens but find it hard to make a connection because public trust is so low. ‘You end up in a vicious circle,’ says researcher Anouk de Koning. ‘And another problem is that public involvement in government policy, or participation as it is known, is not taken seriously enough. Because what exactly is participation? What does it really have to offer the public?’ These fundamental questions will be discussed at the Crafting Resilience conference on Thursday 30 March.

Unclear term

The conference is aimed at both researchers and the general public. International researchers will discuss the matter in three panels. The first will be about the relationship between governments and citizens and will focus on: Who are these citizens? Who exactly are we talking about? Who is ‘the state’ and who is responsible for what within the state? ‘“Citizen” is an ambiguous term,’ says De Koning. ‘There are citizens who do have great trust in government. And a government consists of all sorts of different types of people. To get a clear picture of the relationship between these two groups, you need to know exactly what you’re talking about.’

Radical change

The second panel will consider new ideas on social policy, including developments in Belgium, Sweden and France. And the third panel will focus on the future: What should be possible? Can we effect radical change from within government agencies themselves?

Even though the conference is an academic one, everyone is welcome to attend and join the discussion, De Koning is keen to emphasise, ‘People in the audience can ask questions and join the discussion.’ The ultimate aim is to share the results of the research programme, which this conference is part of, in the form of free essays and training courses that anyone can use.’

Date: Thursday 30 March 2023, 10.00 - 18.00 hrs.


Museum Volkenkunde
Steenstraat 1
2312 BS Leiden

Interested? Read more about the programme and how to register.

This conference is part of the NWA ‘Social Work and the Art of Crafting Resilient Societies’ research project, which is seeking ways to bridge the gap between governments and their citizens. It is part of Leiden’s ‘Social Citizenship and Migration’ interdisciplinary research programme.

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