Online Forums and Deliberative Democracy
Title: Online Forums and Deliberative Democracy
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd
Citation: Acta Politica, 2005, 40, 3, 317-335
The Internet is rapidly becoming a part of the everyday lives of a majority of people in the Western world. People perform various activities on the Internet and one of them is discussing politics and society in so-called online forums. In this article, we present an overview of some of the empirical research that evaluates the quality of political conversations in online forums. In the first section, we distinguish research on Usenet groups, web-based political forums and e-consultation forums, and discuss some its findings. In the second section, we elaborate three original categories of variables that attempt to explain differences observed in the quality of deliberation. The third, more extensive section deals with methodological issues. It discusses the operationalisation of deliberative quality and the application of a set of criteria for the idealized public sphere to online conversations. In the conclusion, we present some objections to the previous research and offer some ideas for a more comprehensive approach to online forum analysis.
Subject: internet; online forums; measuring deliberation
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