Flexible citizenship as a discursive mechanism in urban planning: the case of island governance


  • Yuyao University of Groningen
  • Frans Sijtsma University of Groningen
  • Dimitris Ballas University of Groningen
  • Richard Rijnks University of Groningen


governance, tourism, island, flexible citizenship




Contemporary urban planning underscores the imperative of inclusive public engagement of diverse stakeholders. In an era of heightened global mobility, tourists can develop strong place attachment to distant places among which islands take specific place. On islands, tourist numbers may easily exceed the local community during busy seasons and while the numbers may be high and the place attachment may be strong, tourists are barely given the opportunity to participate in decision-making of local governance because of their non-citizen identity. In this research, we move beyond tourist citizenship behavior studies to the concept of flexible citizenship (Lepofsky and Fraser, 2003; Misener and Mason, 2006; Weaver, Moyle and McLennan, 2022), which allows one to discursively connect to and articulate their rights to a place. The aim is to test whether and to what extent tourists perform duties and rights of citizenship norms (Dalton, 2008). We apply an online PPGIS approach to experiment with different forms of participation on five different islands in five different countries. We organize online role-play games with simulated public decision making under unfolding scenarios to support the experiments where tourists are empowered with flexible citizenship. Participants are invited to map their capacities for giving supports using public participatory GIS platform so the evolution of capital as well as potential conflicts during the participatory process is also documented (Hilbers et al., 2022). We report on the design and the first results of the experiment.


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Hilbers, A.M. et al. (2022) ‘Identifying Citizens’ Place Values for Integrated Planning of Road Infrastructure Projects’, Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 113(1), pp. 35–56. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/tesg.12487.

Lepofsky, J. and Fraser, J.C. (2003) ‘Building Community Citizens: Claiming the Right to Place-making in the City’, Urban Studies, 40(1), pp. 127–142. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/00420980220080201.

Misener, L. and Mason, D.S. (2006) ‘Developing Local Citizenship through Sporting Events: Balancing Community Involvement and Tourism Development’, Current Issues in Tourism, 9(4–5), pp. 384–398. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2167/cit263.0.

Weaver, D.B., Moyle, B. and McLennan, C.-L.J. (2022) ‘The citizen within: positioning local residents for sustainable tourism’, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 30(4), pp. 897–914. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2021.1903017.