New media, politics and society- Second edition
Chapter 2 Electronic Government
The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1991: 172) has argued that a lack of access among the general populace to the tools necessary for political participation has resulted in the concentration of political power as the province of a small elite. Although much has been claimed for the potential of new media technologies to promote democratic political participation, it remains unclear whether the application of these technologies in practices as apparently diverse as those of electronic governance, interactive enter- tainment and virtual socialization indeed of fer the popular dissemination of the technological and cultural capital which Bourdieu sees as essential to the processes of democratization – or whether they in essence divert their subjects from such processes. Bourdieu (2005: 62) has proposed that ‘to make a decisive contribu- tion to the construction of a genuine democracy […] one needs to work towards creating the social conditions for the establishment of a mode of fabrication of the “general will” […] that is genuinely collective […] based upon the regulated exchanges of a dialectical confrontation […] capable of transforming the contents communicated as well as those who commu- nicate.’ It appears that the homogenizing seamlessness of contemporary media technologies refutes the possibility of any such dialectical con- frontation; and therefore, if we are to attempt to forge in the smithy of society the political consciousness of the populace, then it seems vital to ensure that this process is not illusory, is not a forgery or fabrication in a sense unintended by Bourdieu. Those who might see the potential...
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