Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Bloggers and Deliberative Democracy in Indonesia's Blogosphere

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Bloggers and Deliberative Democracy in Indonesia's Blogosphere

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

There is a relationship between the public sphere and Deliberative Democracy. The public sphere was a major requirement for Deliberative Democracy (Habermas, 1994; Smuts, 2010). The public sphere was the arena of freedom and equality where citizens deliberated (Bohman & Regh, 1998), and created public argument and responded through reason among fellow citizens (Cohen, 1989). Deliberative Democracy has decreased the political dominance of the government, parliament, judiciary and political parties. These bodies had previously determined public policy without a wider public's involvement. In contrast, Deliberative Democracy engaged public participation, especially the participation of marginal society (Ferree, 2002).

Habermas's public sphere was constructed by arguing facts from the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe in which the public sphere stood between civil society and the state. Civil society mediated between the state and private/corporate interests through public opinion and political practice (Sikka, 2006). Habermas defined the public sphere as people coming together as a public, claiming to be public, creating public authority itself, and engaging in public debate about government regulations relating to the public interest (Habermas, 1991a). In the public sphere, everyone participated without external pressure. Individuals used rational-critical debate and generated public opinion (Habermas, 1991b). Therefore, based on Habermas' view, the public sphere is the realm of communication for citizens to share opinions, express ideas, and publish public opinions autonomously without any pressure from the government and the owners of capital and free from personal interests whilst keeping the interests of the public at heart.

Habermas (1994) explained Deliberative Democracy. He said that informal public opinion-formation generated "influence"; influence was transformed into "communicative power" through the channels of political elections; and communicative power was again transformed into "administrative power" through legislation. It was the practice of democracy that emphasized deliberation among elements of society to influence political policy. Furthermore, deliberation emphasized the political participation of citizens to discuss political issues through rational arguments critically and aimed to reach consensus through communicative action. Through the resulting political discourse, citizens had political influence transformed into communicative power, and at some stage, became administrative power through legislation or policy.

Habermas (2006) claimed that the Internet's effective use is to oppose authoritarian regimes, and that it hampers the freedom of public opinion and public spaces. Moreover, the Internet was not able to create an integrated community through consensus-building. In addition, bloggers were fragmented and isolated, so their voices could not directly influence policy. Habermas (2006) argued that the Internet only created a more egalitarian social life. However, Geiger (2009) rejected Habermas's claim that the Internet did not have a mechanism of collective action. The blogosphere mediated collective political action in society. The Internet websites Tehnocrati, Delicious, Digg and Google integrated bloggers and facilitated collective action among them. The blogosphere integrated the bloggers through both discursive and non-discursive construction. The Digg users could share non-discursively through algorithms to determine websites, blog posts, videos and other content to be displayed in accordance with their interests. Bruns (2007) and Rheingold (2007) disagreed with Habermas because he failed to read the phenomenon of political communication on the Internet. They argued that even though the public in the online community is so complex and diverse, individual participation is not lost in their offline activities. The bloggers either implicitly connected through joint membership or explicitly connected through a hyperlink posted throughout a variety of forums. …

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