Navigating Troubled Waters: Bringing the E-Democratic Ship into Safe Harbour?

Andreas Møller Jørgensen, Kim Normann Andersen

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    Abstract

    Purpose: Whereas prior research has conceptualized and empirically investigated reinforcement and amplification mechanisms, this paper aims to propose a framework of power that captures the dynamic ways in which different forms of online political action are structured by disparate mechanisms.
    Design/methodology/approach: The paper derives a theoretical model of power from Foucault and affiliated governmentality studies, which constructs power as the mechanisms and logics that structure the field of possible actions. This model is grounded in research literature on e-democracy and applied in a study of the mechanisms that structure e-democracy.
    Findings: The paper identifies four mechanisms that balance disparate concerns of e-democracy. Monitoring (M) mechanisms apply logics of security and service to weigh anonymity and publicity against each other. The range of participants is determined by Inclusion/exclusion (I) mechanisms which operate through rules of engagement. Moderation (M) mechanisms balance concerns for heterogenic viewpoints and homogeneity according to a logic of uniformity. Logics of profit-making and shared understanding warrant the balance that Exposure (E) mechanisms strike between information abundance and centralized access. The four mechanisms are combined in the MIME framework.
    Research limitations/implications: The MIME framework includes mechanisms that are documented by the English-speaking research community, often with a substantial time lag. Others and potentially forceful mechanisms might not be reported in the research literature.
    Practical implications: Practitioners are encouraged to be cognizant of the variety of mechanisms that condition e-democracy; their internal components and external relations of e-democratic practices when designing, building and conducting e-democratic initiatives.
    Originality/value: Instead of focusing exclusively on the beneficiaries and the possible payoffs from e-democratic practices, the MIME framework developed in the paper focuses on the mechanisms which structure e-democracy.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalTransforming Government
    Volume10
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)591-604
    Number of pages14
    ISSN1750-6166
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Keywords

    • Power
    • E-democracy
    • Governmentality
    • Steering mechanism

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