Democracy Online: The Prospects for Political Renewal Through the Internet

Posted: 30 Aug 2004

See all articles by Peter M. Shane

Peter M. Shane

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Abstract

Democracy Online offers a set of explorations from communications studies, information science, law, philosophy, political psychology, political science, and sociology of opportunities for the Internet to revitalize democratic practice. Rejecting technological determinism of either a utopian or dystopian flavor, its perspectives embody what its editor calls an emerging school of cyberrealist thought about the variety of individual and social factors likely to shape the future of electronic democracy. Rejecting technological determinism of either a utopian or dystopian flavor, the authors illuminate a variety of individual and social factors likely to shape the future of the field. In an advance review, noted author Howard Rheingold calls the volume a deep, broad, and useful contribution to a critically important discourse about the future of our social and political institutions in an increasingly Internet-centric world.

The volume includes chapters by:

- Michael Froomkin, discussing the plausibility of deploying new technologies to improve democratic conversation in ways consistent with the vision of Jurgen Habermas;

- Beth Noveck, reviewing the design choices faces by programmers seeking to create software to support online political deliberation;

- Nancy Marder, exploring the potential future for cyberjuries;

- James Bohman, discussing the potential for new public spheres of Internet-supported transnational democratic deliberation;

- Peter Shane, urging cyberdemocratic activists to pursue the simultaneous revitalization of both representative and deliberative democratic elements of American governance;

- Oren Perez, arguing that the Internet be used to support multidimensional decision frameworks that take account of individual and social pluralism;

- Lori Weber and Sean Murray, reviewing literature on the importance of interactivity to Internet-based initiatives aimed at overcoming prevailing social inequalities;

- Tamara Witschge, discussing obstacles of political psychology that may impede the capacity of online deliberation to incorporate the elements of difference and disagreement that are essential to the legitimacy of democratic conversation;

- Alexandra Samuel, discussing the phenomenon of hactivism, which challenges the adequacy of deliberative democratic thinking about free speech norms and the relationship between identity and accountability;

- Dan Hunter, challenging the priority attached by cyberdemocrats to democratic legitimacy in the face of evidence that our deeper political commitment lie elsewhere;

- Tom Beierle, reporting on an EPA-sponsored online dialogue on the future of public participation in that agency;

- Woody Stanley, Christopher Weare, and Juliet Musso, discussing a Department of Transportation online dialogue on commercial vehicle safety;

- Nicholas Jankowski and Renee van Os, describing the obstacles facing effective online deliberation even in a Netherlands city possessing one of that country's most advanced community networks;

- Jackie Mildner and Nancy Tate, reviewing the League of Women Voters' Democracy Net Project, and the importance of assessing online initiatives in light of the offline forms of political activism they support;

- Paul Harwood and Wayne McIntosh, exploring the capacity of online networks to create a sense of belonging and community-connectedness for individual participants;

- Peter Muhlberger, presenting survey data suggesting the importance of individual attitudes and resources for the success of online democratic initiatives;

- Jason Barabas, discussing the apparently limited impact of unstructured online political conversation to increase public policy knowledge; and

- Grant Kippen and Gordon Jenkins, analyzing the hesitancy of Canadian political parties to embrace cyberdemocratic strategies for building stronger relationships with their constituents.

Note: This is a description of the book and not the actual abstract.

JEL Classification: O30, O31, O33, O34, O38, P41, P45

Suggested Citation

Shane, Peter M., Democracy Online: The Prospects for Political Renewal Through the Internet. Shane, Peter M., DEMOCRACY ONLINE: THE PROSPECTS FOR POLITICAL RENEWAL THROUGH THE INTERNET, Routledge, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=583143

Peter M. Shane (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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