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Private, public and cyber space - Political infrastructure on the Internet

Pontus Wallin
Linnaeus University
Pontus Wallin
Linnaeus University
Open Panel

Abstract

The word politics derives from the Greek word polis meaning city. In a city all citizens must act and interact according to the architectural and infrastructural constitution of city space. In this article I discuss theories of political space and how these theories must be developed to accommodate the addition and growth of cyber space. When combining theories of political space with theories of cyber space new light can be shed on the contemporary political milieu. The article presents the initial theoretical framework of my doctoral thesis project called Open China in which I seek to describe and analyze recent initiatives by the Chinese government to build political infrastructure that is open to public online deliberation. Central to the discussion is the analysis of differences in the political dynamics of different web platforms such as bulletin boards and social networks. What differences do our theories of political space suggest and how are we to work methodologically to find out empirically? From our conclusions we learn that there should perhaps be new ways of conceptualizing autocracy in the twenty first century.