This paper looks at the changing communication environment of public sector organizations and examines how the traditional understanding of citizen engage-ment is becoming outdated. Building on literature on customer engagement from marketing and civic engagement from the field of political science, this article es-tablishes the process of citizen engagement in the public sector. Our propositions for future citizen engagement include the following: (i) a willingness and empow-erment to engage from both sides, (ii) the potential for either positive or negative manifestations, (iii) realistic expectations for outcomes, (iv) an understanding of its process-form and (v) having the aim of improving society. We tested these propo-sitions in the context of young opinion leaders in Finland in the Covid-19 related communication aiming to engage citizens to wear protective face masks. Our data confirmed the five propositions, and two new ones also emerged from the data: citizen engagement (vi) occurs in the global information environment and (vii) is enforced by others in society.
Keywords: Citizen engagement, civic engagement, customer engagement, public sector communication, Covid-19 masks, young people
Vilma Luoma-aho, Maria-Jose Canel, Jana Bowden, Erika Ek, Viktoria Vainiomäki, in "SOCIOLOGIA DELLA COMUNICAZIONE " 61/2021, pp. 20-35, DOI:10.3280/SC2021-061003