Democracy in the Digital Age: Challenges to Political Life in Cyberspace

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Is the Internet an antidote to America's political afflictions? Much of the writings on the prospects of a digital democracy are only impassioned predictions from Internet doomsayers or Silicon Valley faithfuls, sorely lacking a critical eye and sound research. Anthony G. Wilhelm counters claims on both sides with a well-reasoned factual argument: political conversations occurring online are neither thoughtful nor inclusive, suggesting that current new technologies are as much threats to progress as they are vehicles of progress.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415924351
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Pages: 192
  • Lexile: 1620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony G. Wilhelm is Director of Information and Communication Technology Research at the Tomás Rivera Policy Insitute, a national think tank that examines issues of concern to the Hispanic community. He also served as the Teledemocracy Project Coordinator at Claremont Graduate University's School for Politics and Economics.

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Table of Contents

1 Cyberdemocracy's "Troubled and Frothy Surface" 13
Neofuturists, Dystopians, and Technorealists 14
Research on the Democratic Potential of New Communications Technologies 23
Beyond the Mere Smoke of Opinion 29
2 Shaping Virtual Civic Spaces 32
Antecedent Resources and the Threshold of Political Functioning 35
Inclusiveness in Online Public Life 38
Deliberation and Light-Speed Telecommunications Technologies 41
Designing a Democratic Future 44
3 Resource Requirements of Digitally Mediated Political Life 48
Toward a Resource Model of Telecommunications Access 50
Data 52
Methods 53
"Thick Description" of Teletechnology Access and Use 54
Noneconomic Barriers 58
The Causal Priority of Family and Education 65
4 Immune to Progress: Reconceptualizing America's Information and Telecommunications Underclass 67
A Tale of Two Cities 68
Expanding the Definition of Information Poverty: A Periphery-Center Model 73
Data and Methods 76
A New Classification of Information and Technology Poverty 77
5 Virtual Sounding Boards: How Deliberative is Online Political Discussion? 86
Exploratory Questions 87
Why Content Analysis? 90
Content Categories 93
The Vast Cyberwasteland? 97
Irrigating the Wasteland 102
6 Designer Democracy 105
Becoming Digital: The Prospects for Home-Based Cyberdemocracy 106
Bypassing Poor Neighborhoods, Communities of Color, and Rural America 113
Public-Access Workstations and Community Building 116
Opening the Space of Flows 121
7 Catching the Red Queen: Public-Policy Renovations 123
The Difference Principle 125
Toward Ubiquitous Deployment of Advanced Services 132
Enhancing Deliberation in Online Political Forums 138
Political Multicasting: An Enduring Public Trusteeship 143
Conclusion: Media Campaigns and the New International 149
App. A1 Logistic Regression Analysis of Home Computer Ownership 159
App. A2 Logistic Regression Analysis of Home Modem Ownership 160
App. A3 Logistic Regression Analysis of Digitally Mediated Political Engagement 161
App. B List of (Self-Identified) Political Usenet and AOL Forums 162
References 163
Index 177
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