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Digital Momentum for Participation Processes in Rural Areas

Research project by Chemnitz University of Technology and Goethe University Frankfurt investigates perspectives and possible applications of digital participation processes in rural regional development.

How can participation processes in rural areas be designed digitally? This question is the focus of a new research project at Chemnitz University of Technology and Goethe University Frankfurt entitled “Perspectives and Possible Applications of Digital Participation Processes in Rural Regional Development” (DigiBeL). The Institute for Media Research (IfM) in Chemnitz and the Institute for Rural Structural Research (IfLS) are analyzing how digital processes can be used or made more effective for the participation of citizens in the implementation of regional development processes in rural areas.

“We want to find out how analog and digital formats and methods of citizen participation can be combined sensibly and efficiently,” says Prof. Dr. Christian Pentzold, Chair of Communications and Media Studies at Chemnitz University of Technology. For example, the effects of digitization and new media on communication methods, social organization, and institutions in rural regional development processes will be investigated. For this purpose, four to six regional development processes in different regions of Germany will be used as case studies. Thematic foci are economy and infrastructure, nature and environment, demographics, social issues, and participation. “The research results will ultimately result in recommendations for action and policy to strengthen the effectiveness of rural regional development processes at state, federal, and European levels,” explains Pentzold. In particular, it will be determined which forms of participation already function well and where more investment will be needed in the future.

The project, which launched on April 1, 2020, will be funded over the next three years with approximately €125,000 under the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s “Rural Areas in Times of Digitization” funding measure.

For more information, please contact Prof. Dr. Pentzold, Phone +49 (0)371 531-3898, Email:

(Author: Mario Steinebach / Translation: Chelsea Burris)

Matthias Fejes

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