Michael Gurevitch, Mark R. Levy and Itzhak Roeh
The ideal of the 'informed citizen' has always been regarded as central to the functioning of democracies. An informed citizenry is considered to be a prerequisite for full citizenship for at least two principles, central to a democratic system of government: first, because in a democracy, those who govern should at all times be held accountable to the governed; and second, because democracy is based on active participation by citizens in the social and political life of society. Clearly, both principles are predicated on citizens being informed about the activities of government and the affairs of society (for a recent discussion of the relations between communication and citizenship see, for example, Murdock and Golding 1989). It is because of this that the mass media, primarily in their 'information function', have been hailed, cliché-style, as 'the lifeblood of democracies', pivotal for the functioning of healthy and vibrant democratic systems.
While citizenship has traditionally been conceptualized in terms of membership in a given society, over the last few decades the concept has taken on a global dimension. The notion of 'global citizenship' received considerable impetus from post World War II attempts to structure a new world order, a vision powerfully expressed in the symbolism associated with the establishment of the United Nations Organization. 'Global citizenship' implied the possibility of a supranational, global identity. These aspirations were greatly enhanced, first by the visions, and eventually by the development, of new technologies of communication that held the promise, for the first time, of a truly global communication system. Instant global communication, it was felt, offered the possibility