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Connecting supply and demand in the explanation of e-democracy

Gustav Lidén
Mid-Sweden University
Gustav Lidén
Mid-Sweden University
Open Panel

Abstract

The phenomenon of e-democracy is a concept that is attracting growing interests in political science. Sadly however, the subfield that through a comparative approach tries to answer questions about which factors explain the existence and levels of e-democracy is limited. This research contributes to this essential and unexplored field of e-democracy with a research design that simultaneously examines how supply and demand of e-democratic functions vary in Sweden. Such a design provides both information about structure and agency and an understanding for causal mechanisms. This research provides theoretical leverage by drawing on a wide scope of theoretical explanations regarding both the supply of e-democracy and the demand for it. From the supply side this includes testing developmental, technological and modernization theories on the level of e-democracy in all of the Swedish municipalities. The demand side includes the most important theories that explain individual political behavior, e.g. political, social and human capital, tested on survey data representative of the whole Swedish population. The final empirical test is the examination of the accordance of the two dimensions on the analytical level of Sweden’s 21 counties. Tentative results show the importance of education, both as an aggregate as well as for the individual. The fact that the municipalities’ supply of e-democratic functions is in harmony with citizens’ demands provides important insights, both by creating a wider understanding for the overall level of e-democracy but also by stressing the importance of a micro perspective in models of explanation.