Citizens have begun to take public matters into their own hands and establish their own communities. They have self-defined rules and norms, separated from what is regularly defined as the public arena but are still included in a more general framework of societal rules. The public sphere in these domains has become privatized, in the sense that others are excluded from it and social interaction is regulated in private contracts between individuals, or between individuals and actors other than the state. The trend of citizens organizing public matters privately and opting out of certain shared public institutions poses ethical questions for representative democracy and for society as a whole. What does it mean for society if these practices of self-government keep growing in number and size? Are there lessons to be learned from self-government in local communities?.

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Public Integrity

van der Steen, M., van Twist, M., & Karré, P. (2011). When Citizens Take Matters into Their Own Hands: How Privately Managed Communities Challenge Government. Public Integrity, 13(4), 319–332. doi:10.2753/PIN1099-9922130402