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The Fifth Estate Emerging Through the Network of Networks

William H. Dutton

Michigan State University - Quello Center

June 10, 2008

Prometheus, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 1-15, 2009

The rise of the press, radio, television and other mass media enabled the development of an independent institution: the ‘Fourth Estate’, central to pluralist democratic processes. The growing use of the Internet and related digital technologies is creating a space for networking individuals in ways that enable a new source of accountability in government, politics and other sectors. This paper explains how this emerging ‘Fifth Estate’ is being established and why this could challenge the influence of other more established bases of institutional authority. It discusses approaches to the governance of this new social and political phenomenon that could nurture the Fifth Estate’s potential for supporting the vitality of liberal democratic societies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: network society; information and communication technologies; democratic institutions; political studies; media studies; fourth estate

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Date posted: July 25, 2008 ; Last revised: December 4, 2015

Suggested Citation

Dutton, William H., The Fifth Estate Emerging Through the Network of Networks (June 10, 2008). Prometheus, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 1-15, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1167502

Contact Information

William H. Dutton (Contact Author)
Michigan State University - Quello Center ( email )
406 Communication Arts Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212
United States
HOME PAGE: http://quello.msu.edu
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