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Ranch State and CitizenSpace: Digital Democracy and Web Strategies for the United States and the United Kingdom
Unformatted Document Text:  4 Digital Democracy The internet (including websites) can, theoretically, be an important avenue for communication between citizens and between levels of governmental hierarchy. This sort of communication could also provide an increased level of participation and contact between citizens and government – making for at least a more informed, aware, and perhaps participatory democratic society. Since its inception, the Internet has spawned numerous speculative accounts for how this form of technology will actually alter the way in which democratic governance is conducted. This number has been matched by a paucity of actual empirical studies that attempt to draw causal relationships between communication technologies and the democratic process. Some researchers have attempted to impose some theoretical rigor on the “rivalry of hyperbole” (Abramson, Arterton, & Orren, 1988) – by establishing theory-grounded definitions for terminology involved in researching the relationship between ICTs and democracy (Hacker & van Dijk, 2000). Taking from one such effort, this paper defines “digital democracy” as a “collection of attempts to practice democracy without the limits of time, space, and other physical conditions, using ICT or CMC [computer mediated communication] instead, as an addition, not a replacement for traditional analogue practices (Hacker and van Dijk, p. 1). Why is it important to define digital democracy for this paper? Digital democracy is in part about the extension of the practice of democracy outside traditional analog realms. The practice of democratic governments in ICT and CMC environments is a part of a notion digital democracy. As I am examining the relationship between government foreign policy and democratic governance through web sites – the digital democracy literature is a necessary framework for analysis. ICTs are in part implicated in political functions because of historical developments in the role of media in society. New media is made possible by ICTs – and media in general has rapidly become the venue for political action in the United States. As Manuel Castells notes,

Authors: Hayden, Craig.
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4
Digital Democracy
The internet (including websites) can, theoretically, be an important avenue for
communication between citizens and between levels of governmental hierarchy. This sort of
communication could also provide an increased level of participation and contact between
citizens and government – making for at least a more informed, aware, and perhaps participatory
democratic society.
Since its inception, the Internet has spawned numerous speculative accounts for how this
form of technology will actually alter the way in which democratic governance is conducted. This
number has been matched by a paucity of actual empirical studies that attempt to draw causal
relationships between communication technologies and the democratic process. Some researchers
have attempted to impose some theoretical rigor on the “rivalry of hyperbole” (Abramson,
Arterton, & Orren, 1988) – by establishing theory-grounded definitions for terminology involved
in researching the relationship between ICTs and democracy (Hacker & van Dijk, 2000). Taking
from one such effort, this paper defines “digital democracy” as a “collection of attempts to
practice democracy without the limits of time, space, and other physical conditions, using ICT or
CMC [computer mediated communication] instead, as an addition, not a replacement for
traditional analogue practices (Hacker and van Dijk, p. 1).
Why is it important to define digital democracy for this paper? Digital democracy is in
part about the extension of the practice of democracy outside traditional analog realms. The
practice of democratic governments in ICT and CMC environments is a part of a notion digital
democracy. As I am examining the relationship between government foreign policy and
democratic governance through web sites – the digital democracy literature is a necessary
framework for analysis.
ICTs are in part implicated in political functions because of historical developments in
the role of media in society. New media is made possible by ICTs – and media in general has
rapidly become the venue for political action in the United States. As Manuel Castells notes,


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