Can New Technologies Improve Democratic Innovations? Challenges and Risks of Digital Devices for Democracy

Cyber Politics
Political Participation
Critical Theory
Panel Number
Panel Co-Chair
Giovanni Allegretti
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra
Panel Discussant
Paolo Spada
University of Westminster
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07/09/2017 09:00
Building: BL27 Georg Sverdrups hus Floor: 3 Room: GS 3512
The emergence of new technologies has created a new context for participatory experiences. For several years now, online participation has played a prominent role in the organization of the experiences and it starts to dispute the protagonism in participatory rhetoric. There are many reasons for the arrival of new technologies and their relative success in such a short time, including the undoubted fact of their ability to reduce the costs associated with participation. It is easier, cheaper and less time-consuming than any offline activity. The combination of lowered costs, easy to use interfaces and gamified incentive structures has promoted the participation of people who have never done it before, thus extending the number and diversity of participants. However, many problems have been associated with online participation and its critics include, among others: 1) difficulties in preserving privacy when using applications developed for specific experiences; 2) the existence of a digital divide that transfers a participatory bias between participants to the online world; 3) the risk to lose the deliberative processes that used to entail so far participatory experiences and 4) the disadvantages of introducing game like behaviours that promote competition and alter the epistemology of democratic practices. In this panel we propose to work on these dilemmas and how it affects the development of democratic innovations. Today, it seems difficult to renounce to new technologies, insofar as they allow us to expand participation towards a horizon that can hardly be reached only from offline experiences. However, this path is not free of substantive problems that affect the quality of democracy and the development of experiences. The Panel intends to delve into these limits in order to explore the challenge for online participation from two major problems: 1) the theoretical and practical implications of its development; and 2)the posibilities of articulating offline and online participation.

Paper List

Cyberdemocracy Revisited: Power and Inequality in Online Deliberation View Paper Details
Democracy is a Serious Game View Paper Details
Online Participation in Democratic Processes: The Case of the Green Party, Germany View Paper Details
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"Aristocracies … may preserve themselves longest, but only democracies, which refresh their ruling class, can expand" - Hugh Trevor-Roper

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