Edited By Stephen Coleman, Anna Przybylska and Yves Sintomer
Zhang Weiyu - Chapter Three. The Disenfranchised and E-Deliberation: Beyond Access
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Chapter Three. The Disenfranchised and E-Deliberation: Beyond Access
Online deliberation, or eDeliberation, refers to an emerging body of practices that purposely foster open, fair, and rational discussions over the Internet. Websites such as e-the-people.org and e-democracy.org provide ordinary citizens an online space to have democratic conversations (Dahlgren 2001). Projects such as Deliberative Polling go online to take advantage of its relatively lower cost and longer duration compared to face-to-face deliberation (Luskin et al. 2006). Both types of practices have been found to be able to promote respectful listening, change attitudes, increase knowledge, and so on (Monnoyer-Smith and Talpin 2010). However, the contribution of such practices to democracy in general is contested among scholars (Dryzek 2009; Dahlberg 2001; Graham 2008; Shane 2004). One critique concerns the various inequalities seen in both access to and use of information technology, such as those of racial inequalities (Mossberger et al. 2006) and inequalities in technical capitals (Zhang 2010). Considering the central role information technology plays in eDeliberation, how the disenfranchised engage and experience eDeliberation becomes crucial because the representativeness of participants and their voices directly influence the legitimacy of decisions generated from such deliberative practices (Chang et al. 2014).
The tradition of political participation research provides the basis on which we can project the relationship between eDeliberation and the disenfranchised. Participation in American politics is not universal, and those who do take part are, in important ways, not representative of...
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