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The 21st Century Media (R)evolution

Emergent Communication Practices, Second Edition

Jim Macnamara

The emergence of what are called ‘new media’ and ‘social media’ is one of the most discussed topics in contemporary societies. Because media and public communication are mostly analyzed within particular theoretical frameworks and within specific disciplinary fields, polarized views have been created with cyberoptimists and celebrants on one side and cyberpessimists and skeptics on the other. Thus we lack an understanding of the interdependencies and convergence between disciplines and practices.
The second edition of this book expertly synthesizes competing theories and disciplinary viewpoints and examines the latest data, including international research from fast-growing markets such as China, to provide a comprehensive, holistic view of the twenty-first century media (r)evolution. Dr. Macnamara argues that the key changes are located in practices rather than technologies and that public communication practices are emergent in highly significant ways.
Engaging and accessible, this book is essential reading for scholars and professionals in media and communication and an invaluable text for courses in media studies, journalism, advertising, public relations and organisational and political communication.
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Chapter 6. E-Elections, E-Government, E-Democracy—The Future of Politics

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E-ELECTIONS, E-GOVERNMENT, E-DEMOCRACY

The Future of Politics

Media play a major role in politics in contemporary societies, particularly in democracies where they have been identified as the ‘Fourth Estate’ after the parliament, the judiciary, and the church (Louw, 2005, p. 288). In fact, a number of scholars note that politics in contemporary Western democracies is largely mediated—that is, debate and discussion are conducted through media more than face to face or through traditional institutions (Corner, 2007, p. 212; Louw, 2005, p. 140). However, with 20th century concentration of mass media accessible mainly to elites and ‘political actors’ such as politicians, journalists, major industry associations, big business and lobbyists, concerns have been expressed about the functioning of democracy. As a number of political scientists and sociologists have identified what they term a “democratic deficit” (Couldry, 2010, p. 49; Curran, 2011, p. 86), referring to declining citizen engagement and participation in democratic politics (Castells, 1998; Curran, 2011; Dahlgren, 2009, p. 1; McAllister, 2002), declining citizens’ trust in representative institutions and politicians (Gibson, Lusoli & Ward, 2008) and “a growing sense of popular alienation from formal political institutions and processes” (Flew, 2008, p. 83). Nick Couldry has warned that there is a “crisis of voice” in neoliberal democracies (2008, p. 389; 2009, p. 581)—although, as the last chapter argued in relation to organizations and research reported later in this chapter will show, it might be better said that there is a...

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