Democracy, deliberation and design:The case of online discussion forums

Street, J. and Wright, Scott (2007) Democracy, deliberation and design:The case of online discussion forums. New Media and Society, 9 (5). pp. 849-869. ISSN 1461-4448

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Abstract

Within democratic theory, the deliberative variant has assumed pre-eminence. It represents for many the ideal of democracy, and in pursuit of this ideal, online discussion forums have been proposed as solutions to the practical limits to mass deliberation. Critics have pointed to evidence which suggests that online discussion has tended to undermine deliberation. This article argues that this claim, which generates a stand-off between the two camps, misses a key issue: the role played by design in facilitating or thwarting deliberation. It argues that political choices are made both about the format and operation of the online discussion, and that this affects the possibility of deliberation. Evidence for the impact of design (and the choices behind it) is drawn from analysis of European Union and UK discussion forums. This evidence suggests that we should view deliberation as dependent on design and choice, rather than a predetermined product of the technology.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: deliberative democracy,e-democracy,online discussion,theories of technology,website design
Faculty \ School: University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Political, Social and International Studies
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 14:58
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2019 14:48
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/44599
DOI: 10.1177/1461444807081230

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