Embracing Digital Democracy: A Call for Building an Online Civic Commons

PS: Political Science & Politics, 50(3):758-763 (July 2017), DOI:10.1017/S1049096517000555

11 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2016 Last revised: 28 Jun 2017

See all articles by John Gastil

John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University

Robert C. Richards

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

Date Written: November 3, 2016

Abstract

Recent advances in online civic engagement tools have created a digital civic space replete with opportunities to craft and critique laws and rules or evaluate candidates, ballot measures, and policy ideas. These civic spaces, however, remain largely disconnected from one another, such that tremendous energy dissipates from each civic portal. Long-term feedback loops also remain rare. We propose addressing these limitations by building an integrative online commons that links together the best existing tools by making them components in a larger “Democracy Machine.” Drawing on gamification principles, this integrative platform would provide incentives for drawing new people into the civic sphere, encouraging more sustained and deliberative engagement, and feedback back to government and citizen alike to improve how the public interfaces with the public sector. After describing this proposed platform, we consider the most challenging problems it faces and how to address them.

Keywords: Civic engagement, Gamification, Serious games, Participatory democracy, Deliberative democracy, Democratic deliberation, Online civic participation

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Gastil, John and Richards, Robert C., Embracing Digital Democracy: A Call for Building an Online Civic Commons (November 3, 2016). PS: Political Science & Politics, 50(3):758-763 (July 2017), DOI:10.1017/S1049096517000555. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2864070

John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Robert C. Richards (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service ( email )

1200 President Clinton Ave
Little Rock, AR 72201
United States

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