Electronic Democracy: Mobilisation, Organisation, and Participation via New ICTs

Electronic Democracy: Mobilisation, Organisation, and Participation via New ICTs

Electronic Democracy: Mobilisation, Organisation, and Participation via New ICTs

Electronic Democracy: Mobilisation, Organisation, and Participation via New ICTs

Synopsis

Electronic Democracy analyses the impact of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) within representative democracy, such as political parties, pressure groups, new social movements and executive and legislative bodies. Arguing for the validity of social perspective in theory building, it examines how representative democracies are adapting to new ICTs. It features a number of comparative studies focusing on the UK, the US, Sweden, Germany, Korea and Australia.

Excerpt

One doesn't have to be a Marxist to accept the notion that technology shapes our world and determines the opportunities for social change and the ways people define their positions. This platitude can be easily illustrated by pointing out to the impact of the spread of television or the usage of modern survey techniques on political campaigning. Less well known is the fact that the introduction of air-condition devices transformed political decision-making processes in Washington. in the last few years, political parties and interest groups in each and every country opened their own websites with easy accessible information. Politicians like the German chancellor Gerhard Schröder answered questions of citizens using the Internet, and all over the world members of parliaments can be contacted directly by sending an email message from the living room.

This volume does not constitute yet another fashionable account of the blessings of modern communication and information technologies. Neither does it present a simple solution for the traditional practical problems of democratic decision-making procedures by substituting the crowded marketplace of ancient Greek city-states by some multi-choice-vote-at-home referendum at the start of the New Millennium. As the editors point out in their introduction, the contributions to this volume are based on the presumption that any political use of new technologies takes place within existing institutional frameworks of parliaments, executive branches, and political parties. It is this combination of discussions about these existing institutions of representative democracies on the one hand, and the opportunities of new technologies on the other, which define the unique character of the collection of essays presented in this volume. While there is certainly no lack of research on either of these two topics, only few publications aim explicitly at the relationships between these two areas in a systematic way.

Before the opportunities for new technologies in different political contexts are examined, Rachel Gibson, Wainer Lusoli, Andrea Römmele and Stephen Ward offer an overview of the main aspects of the use of these technologies in representative democracies (Chapter 1). the following four chapters deal with the problems and prospects of information technologies in several countries. in Chapter 1, Charles Raab and Christine Bellamy discuss the changes in parliamentary decision-making processes and the use of new technologies from a theoretical perspective. the core chapters of this part consist of comparative studies of the

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