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Ranch State and CitizenSpace: Digital Democracy and Web Strategies for the United States and the United Kingdom
Unformatted Document Text:  12 Internet. The Internet is a tool that can enable communitarian visions of democracy already sought for – as a place for more “meaningful political discourse”. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has historically less of a concern with the communitarian and somewhat utopian visions expressed during the mid-1990s in the United States. Political efforts regarding ICTs focused on restructuring the public service sector. The governments of Thatcher, Major, and now Blair have all engaged in programs designed to restructure the role of public service delivery to the public (Hagen, p. 60). This is exemplified by two distinct socio-cultural trends in the UK starting in the Thatcher era. First, the UK government during the Tory governments was preoccupied with reorienting the government towards a market-based, decentralized model of governance. This orientation of “market principles” has trickled down to the Blair administration – so that, second, the government use of ICTs is focused on the timely and efficient delivery of public services. One report cited by Hagen state that a goal of the Blair government was to have “all dealings with the government… be deliverable electronically by 2008” (Hagen, p. 61). The development of this trend of ICT policy in government has not sat well with some observers. Bellamy and Taylor have called this approach tantamount to formation of a “consumer democracy”. Instead of using technology to facilitate greater participation in governance – UK ICT strategies have neglected the “sovereign capabilities of the people” (Bellamy and Taylor, 1998). Hagen notes that the UK use of technology has been a focus on what the Russo, Weare, and Hale study would call the “output” or entrepreneurial model for ICT strategy. Meanwhile, the U.S. was supposedly concerned with issues on the “input” end, where the political system is not responsive enough to citizens’ concerns and technology can supposedly be used to facilitate communitarian ideals for democratic participation. In addition to a national context for the evaluation of national web presence that Hagen suggests, I would argue that this view should be complimented with an organizational context. More specifically, what sort of organizational factors lead to the current manifestation of web

Authors: Hayden, Craig.
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Internet. The Internet is a tool that can enable communitarian visions of democracy already
sought for – as a place for more “meaningful political discourse”.
The United Kingdom, on the other hand, has historically less of a concern with the
communitarian and somewhat utopian visions expressed during the mid-1990s in the United
States. Political efforts regarding ICTs focused on restructuring the public service sector. The
governments of Thatcher, Major, and now Blair have all engaged in programs designed to
restructure the role of public service delivery to the public (Hagen, p. 60). This is exemplified by
two distinct socio-cultural trends in the UK starting in the Thatcher era.
First, the UK government during the Tory governments was preoccupied with reorienting
the government towards a market-based, decentralized model of governance. This orientation of
“market principles” has trickled down to the Blair administration – so that, second, the
government use of ICTs is focused on the timely and efficient delivery of public services. One
report cited by Hagen state that a goal of the Blair government was to have “all dealings with the
government… be deliverable electronically by 2008” (Hagen, p. 61).
The development of this trend of ICT policy in government has not sat well with some
observers. Bellamy and Taylor have called this approach tantamount to formation of a “consumer
democracy”. Instead of using technology to facilitate greater participation in governance – UK
ICT strategies have neglected the “sovereign capabilities of the people” (Bellamy and Taylor,
1998). Hagen notes that the UK use of technology has been a focus on what the Russo, Weare,
and Hale study would call the “output” or entrepreneurial model for ICT strategy. Meanwhile, the
U.S. was supposedly concerned with issues on the “input” end, where the political system is not
responsive enough to citizens’ concerns and technology can supposedly be used to facilitate
communitarian ideals for democratic participation.
In addition to a national context for the evaluation of national web presence that Hagen
suggests, I would argue that this view should be complimented with an organizational context.
More specifically, what sort of organizational factors lead to the current manifestation of web


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