The Internet and Democratic Citizenship

Theory, Practice and Policy

by Stephen Coleman,

Series: Communication, Society and Politics

Relations between the public and holders of political authority are in a period of transformative flux. On the one side, new expectations and meanings of citizenship are being entertained and occasionally acted upon. On the other, an inexorable impoverishment of mainstream political communication is taking place. This book argues that the Internet has the potential to improve public communications and enrich democracy, a project that requires imaginative policy-making. This argument is developed through three stages: first exploring the theoretical foundations for renewing democratic citizenship, then examining practical case studies of e-democracy, and finally, reviewing the limitations of recent policies designed to promote e-democracy and setting out a radical, but practical proposal for an online civic commons: a trusted public space where the dispersed energies, self-articulations and aspirations of citizens can be rehearsed, in public, within a process of ongoing feedback to the various levels and centers of governance: local, national and transnational.

In The Press

'The potential for the Internet to support democracy is substantial, but as yet unrealized. The authors - two world-leading scholars of political communication - provide a penetrating synthesis of theory and research to explain the limitation of contemporary approaches to using the Internet and related media to enhance the communicative power of citizens. Their analysis leads to a bold prescription for creating a new civic commons 2.0 that will enable 'more deliberative democracy'. This is an excellent scholarly book that will stimulate and inform public debate in a vital area of communication research. It is must reading not only for students of the iternet, but also for anyone interested in the vitality of democratic institutions and processes.' William H. Dutton, Director, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford