Deliberation, e-democracy, and the virtual public sphere .ppt by EQ7Al75w


									   Deliberation, E-Democracy, and the
          Virtual Public Sphere
Democratic deficit
Public Sphere
Deliberative democracy
WWW as self-generating public sphere?
Engineering online deliberation
                 Democratic deficit
Modern (liberal) democracies inherently deficient
         Greek word meaning “rule by the people”
         “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people”
          (Abraham Lincoln)
Logistic problem:
         Equal participation becomes impossible in large communities
         Emergence of elites unavoidable
Historical prejudice:
         Distrust in mass decision making by enlightenment philosophers,
          democratic theorists, founding fathers
           Representative democracy
Election and exchange of elites
Changing paradigm in democratic theory
      Minimalist/elitist models of democracy (Schumpeter, Downs, Dahl)
       becoming dominant in 20th century
“Empirical theory of democracy”
      Meaningful participation in collective decision making of more than a
       tiny minority is inconceivable;
      “Invisible hand mechanism” ensures that aggregation of unaltruistic
       preferences leads to desirable social outcomes;
      Responsible party model
Suggestion to replace the term “democracy” with that of
 “polyarchy” (Dahl)
      From habitual to evaluative (rational)
      Ineffective form of citizen participation
      According to elitist theories (Schumpeter), voting is no more than a
       regularly recurring element of uncertainty in elite domination
       (incumbents could be thrown out)
      Declining turnout
Party membership
      Parties increasingly centralised
      Professional campaign agents replacing members
      Members tend to be more radical than leaders, hence liability rather
       than asset in campaigns, in time of policy convergence
Political activism (demonstrations, petitions, etc.)
      Increasingly disassociated from traditional party system and its
       mobilisational power
      Quasi anti-political participation
                 Participatory democracy
 Resurgence of substantive models of democracy in 1960s/70s
       (e.g. Carol Pateman)
 Five building blocks of participatory democracy (Zittel 2003):
        Promotion of a new mode of decision making (deliberation)
        Strengthening of the direct mode of decision making
            Referendums/direct democracy (Switzerland, Ireland)
        Democratization of the local level (local democracy)
            Higher levels of political interest in local matters than national
            Higher likelihood/expectation of political efficacy
            More feasible to generate deliberative structures at local than national level
            Increased citizen participation at local level could raise political interest/ perceived
               efficacy; resulting in more participation (e.g. turnout) at national level
        Democratization of functionally defined units of the political system
            E.g. workplace democracy, intra-party democracy
        Implementation of representation as delegation
            Not just responsible, but responsive parties/candidates
            Responsive to the policy concerns of their constituents
            Communicative and educative function of political representatives
            Frequent recall between representative and constituency
   Critique of the institutions of liberal
Consistent use of the principle of representation
Central significance of the electoral connection as a
 mechanism for interest aggregation
Institutional restraints impinging on political
 participation in liberal democracy lessen political
 engagement and spawn political apathy in the long
Demand for institutions that facilitate as much
 political participation as possible
                      The public sphere
Habermas’ The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
    Defines public sphere as
      Autonomous (free from state/government intervention)
      Deliberative forum for open, equal debate of public issues
      Taking place in clubs, tea houses
      Mainly comprised of economically rising but politically marginalised
      Distributed through (and taking place in) free press, which also confronts ruling
        elites with focus and state of public opinion
    Largely blaming mass media (centralization/commercialization) for
     transformation (destruction) of public sphere
       Degrading citizens from participants to audience
       Critical public transformed into apathetic mass (atomised individuals, who are
        being fed information)
       Reducing public opinion from collective opinion formation process into mere
        aggregation of (uninformed, unchallenged, underdeveloped, prejudicial)
Improving democracy through deliberation
 Philosophical rationale for deliberative democracy
    Policy-making derives legitimacy from preceding public
            “The public sphere comes into existence whenever and wherever all
             affected by general social and political norms of action engage in a
             practical discourse, evaluating their validity”
            “Argumentation can exploit the conflict between success-oriented
             competitors for the purpose of achieving consensus as long as the
             arguments are not reduced to mere means of influencing one another”
    Weak publics: informal vehicles of public opinion
            “Taken together, they form a ‘wild’ complex that resists organization
             as a whole”
    Strong publics: institutions seeking out cooperative
     solutions to practical problems
            “a locus of public deliberation culminating in legally binding decisions
             (or laws)”
               Habermas’ influence

Prompting revival in participatory challenges to
 empirical democratic theory
Originally published in German in 1960s
First English translation in 1980s
Coinciding (?) with increased theorizing about
 deliberative democracy
          “The communicative network of a public made up of rationally debating
           private citizens has collapsed; the public opinion once emergent from it has
           partly decomposed into the informal opinions of private citizens without a
           public and partly become concentrated into formal opinions of publicistically
           effective institutions.” (Habermas, 1989: 247)

In the 1990, embraced by cyberenthusiasts
              Deliberative democracy
Modes of decision making
         Aggregation of preferences
         Majority rule decision making
         Aiming for unanimity/compromise

Voting theories (in particular Rational Choice models)
         that preferences are given (exogenous to decision making process)

Deliberative democracy presumes
         Values are stable
         Preferences, opinions, tastes change
         Preferences change, although not compulsory, is the assumed purpose of
         Deliberation is successful if agreement is found, which implies some
           change in preferences
         Deliberation may help overcome decision making dilemma like vote cycles
             Virtues of deliberation
Civic virtue
     Discussion produces “better”citizens (more informed, active,
     Deliberation lowers propensity to (and benefit of) strategic
Governance virtue
     Decisions taken following open discussions have greater legitimacy
     Deliberation enhances quality of decisions
Cognitive virtue
     If opinions are not fixed, open dialogue gives rise to new, more
      articulated points of view
     Deliberation increases knowledge
               Reason, emotion, rhetoric
 Habermas: speech should be founded on reason, defended through
  rational argumentation
 Aristotle: performative mode of public speech, engaging rational
  and nonrational elements
 Rhetoric, according to Habermas, is primarily manipulative, hence
  an obstacle to constructive deliberation
 Since people react emotionally, and differ in rhetorical skill, one
  needs to consider the role of rhetoric in deliberation to avoid
  unrealistic assumptions
       If all people affected are to be equal participants
       Rhetorical skills, prior information, political interest etc. vary with education, age,
       Participation will be asymmetrical
       Arousing emotions serves to engage larger numbers, rather than pure rationality
                    Deliberative practice
Deliberative polls
       Developed by James Fishkin in the 1990s
       Representative sample (ca. 300 participants)
       Invited to debate politics
       Measuring opinion change as a result of deliberation
       Findings
          Change occurs regularly
          Predominant tendency towards more liberal opinions through deliberation
          Moderation of opinions

Deliberative organisations
       Goals
          Conflict resolution
       Deliberative groups predominantly goal-oriented
       Self-selection of members
          Deliberative practice tends to yield additional means of political participation for
            those already more politically interested and informed than the average
       Requirement: minimal recognition of shared values
           Technology and promise
Internet emerging in early 1990s, coinciding with
 increased emphasis on deliberative democracy
Technology promoted as solution of participatory
 deficit in Western democracies
          Means of communication (one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many)
          Decentralised
          Outside state control
          Allowing anyone to produce and receive text
          Parallel to 18th century media landscape
          Less exclusive than Habermas’ bourgeois debate clubs in 18th
            Technology and theory
Instead of deliberative theorists embracing
 ICT/WWW as basis for reinvigoration of public
 sphere, it was cyberenthusiasts who incorporated
 deliberative thinking in their appraisal of the promise
 of online use
            […] it is through the free wheeling and rambling discussion that the online
              medium makes possible, that one can more thoughtfully consider diverse
              views. The Internet helps to remove the constraints to communication, to
              make it possible to explore what the underlying dispute or agreement is,
              and then to determine the new view that will resolve the issue in
              contention. […] This helps to generate the diversity of the variety of
              viewpoints that one has to consider to analyze a question or problem. In
              this process the wide ranging discussion made possible by the Internet is
              not limited to two communicators, but can include a large and almost
              unlimited number. (Hauben, 1999)
                      Online debates
Internet - a self-reflective medium
      Most of the literature on “virtual public sphere” is published only
      Extensive meta-debates within discussion forums (netiquette)
Patterns of online use
      User adaptation to the medium
      Vertical and horizontal segmentation
      Social exclusiveness of technology
      Medium of use not consumption
      Unlimited filtering
                    Internet communities
 Self-selection
 Altering the concept of community (different entry/exit
  conditions than in face-to-face communities)
 Observed homogeneity in usenet groups
        … groups that are evenly divided in opinion, or approximately so, must be rare.
         Asymmetry in the distribution of beliefs within groups is likely to be prevalent,
         particularly since it is known that individuals tend to seek out politically like-minded
         individuals. (Huckfeldt and Sprague 1995)

 Group polarization (possibly detrimental effect on democracy)
        With respect to the Internet and new communications technologies, the implication is
         that groups of like-minded people, engaged in discussion with one another, will end up
         thinking the same thing that they thought before – but in more extreme form. (Sunstein

 Tendency towards monological (rather than dialogical) mode of
 ‘little more than a middle-class residents association in
  cyberspace’ (McClellan, 1994)
       Engineering online participation
UK under New Labour at the forefront of development
 of e-governance and e-democracy
   Tony Blair promising
        ‘a new relationship between the individual and the state. We want to give power back
         to the people, and in return we expect them to take on greater responsibility for
        ‘changing how national government is run as well as devolving power outwards to the
         people.’ (Blair, T. New Britain: my vision of a young country London: Fourth Estate,
   Minister for e-commerce, Douglas Alexander MP:
        “The 2001 UK general election gave us the lowest turnout since universal suff rage –
         only 59% of the electorate were sufficiently engaged in the democratic process to take
         a stake in choosing their government. However, delve below these headline figures and
         the warning is even more stark. The detail of the demographics reveals that in the 18-25
         age group over 60% did not vote. This group represents the democrats of the future
         and, if unaddressed, this level of disengagement would pose a threat to the long-term
         health of our democratic institutions. … it is now time to set all this activity into a clear
         policy framework and put e-democracy on the information age agenda. Government
         should set out what it means by e-democracy and how it intends to use the power of
         technology to strengthen democracy.” (2001)
                  Labour’s online strategy
 Stephen Coleman, Professor for E-Democracy, Oxford
    “There are far more ‘online communities’ in existence than most people realise, constituting
     an autonomous civic network that can only be healthy for democracy. We are interested in
     exploring how governments can connect with such online communities, but the main
     emphasis of this report is to examine whether and how governments themselves can initiate
     and sustaine democracy exercises aimed at involving the public in the policy-making
     process.” (Stephen Coleman and John Gøtze Bowling Together: Online Public Engagement
     in Policy Deliberation London: Hansard Society, 2001)

 Two-way governance
        Active participation
 Moderation and mediation
         “Deliberation requires trusted facilitation. In short, it does not just happen.”
          (Coleman and Gøtze 2001)
         Rules for participants
         Regulate discussions
         Moderate messages
         Help reaching conclusions
         Summarize deliberations
         Ensure feedback to participants
       Online citizenship in Britain
Instrumental mode of communication
Predominantly, information operates on a passive
Emphasis on government targets (100% delivery of
 government services online by end of 2005)
     Design shortcomings
     Building on commercial online technology use
     State interference/usurpation of public sphere
     Deliberative but undemocratic, hence impossible to institutionalize
      impact on decision making

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