The People’s Republic of Youtube? Interrogating Rhetorics of Internet Democracy
Association of Internet Researchers 8.0, Vancouver, Canada, 2007
37 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2011
Date Written: October 1, 2007
The mass media often frames YouTube as intrinsically democratic, allowing ordinary citizens to act as journalists or media watchdogs, participate directly in mainstream media, and become celebrities themselves. While characterizing the internet as “democratic” is nothing new, what are the implications when the site of democracy is not national, but commercial? This paper explores the interplay between community-based or democratic interests and YouTube’s profit-driven nature. I maintain YouTube is subject not only to the same social forces that limit discursive egalitarianism in the “real world,” but to economic forces that act upon users in more complicated ways. It is therefore problematic to look to YouTube, or any other internet site, to compensate for shortcomings in the democratic process.
Keywords: YouTube, social media, digital democracy
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