The Internet and Democratic Citizenship: Theory, Practice and Policy

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Cambridge University Press, 2009 - Business & Economics - 220 pages
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Relations between the public and holders of political authority are in a period of transformative flux. On the one side, new expectations and meanings of citizenship are being entertained and occasionally acted upon. On the other, an inexorable impoverishment of mainstream political communication is taking place. The Internet has the potential to improve public communications and enrich democracy, a project that requires imaginative policy-making. This argument is developed through three stages: first exploring the theoretical foundations for renewing democratic citizenship, then examining practical case studies of e-democracy, and finally, reviewing the limitations of recent policies designed to promote e-democracy and setting out a radical, but practical proposal for an online civic commons: a trusted public space where the dispersed energies, self-articulations and aspirations of citizens can be rehearsed, in public, within a process of ongoing feedback to the various levels and centers of governance: local, national and transnational.
 

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Contents

Introduction Anxiety and Optimism about Democracy
1
1 Democracys Deliberative Deficit
14
2 A Crisis of Public Communication
42
3 From Indirect to Direct Representation
68
4 EDemocracy from Above
90
5 EDemocracy from Below
117
6 Shaping EDemocracy
139
7 Realising the Democratic Potential of the Internet
166
Bibliography
199
Index
217
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About the author (2009)

Stephen Coleman is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Digital Citizenship at the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds. He was previously Professor of e-Democracy at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford and a senior fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. In recent years he has served as specialist adviser to the House of Commons Information Select Committee inquiry on ICT and public participation in Parliament, a member of the Puttnam Commission on parliamentary communication with the public and chair of the Electoral Reform Society's Independent Commission on Alternative Voting Methods. His publications include Bowling Together (with John Gotze, 2001; Realising Democracy Online: A Civic Commons in Cyberspace (with Jay G. Blumler, 2001; A Tale of Two Houses: The House of Commons, the Big Brother House and the People at Home (2003); and Direct Representation: Towards a Conversational Democracy (2005). He has contributed numerous articles and chapters to academic volumes.

Jay G. Blumler is Emeritus Professor of Public Communication at the University of Leeds, and also Emeritus Professor of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He is a leading, internationally recognized figure in political communication, having published numerous books, including (with Denis McQuail) Television in Politics: Its Uses and Influences (1968); (with Elihu Katz) The Uses of Mass Communications: Current Perspectives on Gratifications Research (1974); and (with Michael Gurevitch) The Crisis of Public Communication (1995) He is a past President of the International Communications Association. In 2006 Blumler was given a lifetime achievement award by the American Political Science Association.