Damion Bunders is Assistant Professor Governance of Urban Digitalisation at the department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning and the Utrecht University School of Governance. In his research, teaching, and public engagement, Damion addresses the digital transition and how it can be (re)shaped to the benefit of society.
Early research on digitalisation painted a predominantly positive picture, like predicting a death of distance that would create economic opportunities for people living in peripheral regions and a democratisation in terms of citizens’ political participation. Recent research on digitalisation emphasises the downsides more, such as the inequality between economic winners and losers across digital divides and the centralisation of power in big platform companies. Meanwhile, digital technologies are becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives and physical/virtual space increasingly overlaps. Damion believes it is therefore crucial to focus on how formal and informal institutions could enable a just digital transition for everyone, everywhere. Good governance of digitalisation is needed to safeguard public values.
In his work on the social or institutional innovation happening around digital innovations, Damion is particularly fascinated by bottom-up initiatives: How can workers in the digital economy themselves play a role in improving their working conditions? And under what conditions can citizens’ democratic participation be enhanced by digital tools?