Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication

The MIT Press has just published Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication edited by Stephen Coleman and Peter Shane. The book is a collaborative project of 19 researchers investigating the experience and potential of online consultation in the United States and Europe.

The following paragraph from the introductory chapter gives a flavor of our framework: «A useful understanding of the online consultation phenomenon has to go beyond how particular consultations might or might not affect the outcomes of individual policy- making episodes. We need to consider what such consultations provide, or could provide, to the larger flow of political communication within a society. This also means regarding online consultations as something more than simple two-way dialogues between citizen-participants and public decision makers. Instead, they represent a kind of networked communication involving citizens (both participants and auditors), public decision makers (of both the legislative and administrative sort), bureaucrats, technicians, civil society organizations, and the media generally. Exploring the meaning of online consultations to these diverse actors requires evidence -gathering through multiple methods, comparative study, and analysis across

a variety of key disciplines. We have to appreciate how the experience is constructed by social, political, and legal forces, including, but not limited to the design of the online consultation experience itself. This sort of approach yields an understanding that the online consultation can best contribute phenomenon’s greatest contribution to democratic practice depends by inspiring and supporting a reimagining on it becoming both an impetus to, and a form of support for, a re-imagination of democratic citizenship, a robust form of citizenship that is enhanced by arguably rendered more practical (but hardly inevitable) because of new forms of information and communication technology.»

Here’s the Table of Contents:

1 Online Consultation and Political Communication in the Age of Obama:  An Introduction
Peter M. Shane

I- Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication

2 Democracy, Distance, and Reach: The New Media Landscape
Stephen Coleman and Vincent Price

3 Web 2.0: New Challenges for the Study of E-Democracy in an Era of Informational Exuberance
Andrew Chadwick

4 Online Consultations in Local Government: What Works, When, and Why?
Joachim Astrom and Ake Gronlund

5 Neighborhood Information Systems as Intermediaries in Democratic Communities
Steven J. Balla and Sungsoo Hwang

II- What Online Consultations Mean to Their Participants

6 Playing Politics: The Experience of E-Participation
Vincent Price

7 The Participatory Journey in Online Consultations
Scott Wright

8 Democratic Consultation and the E-Citizen
Stephen Coleman, Rachel Gibson, and Agnes I. Schneeberger

9 The Technological Dimension of Deliberation: A Comparison between Online- and Off-Line Participation
Laurence Monnoyer-Smith

10 The Third Sector as E-Democratic Intermediaries
Scott Wright and Stephen Coleman

11A Survey of Federal Agency Rulemakers? Attitudes about E-Rulemaking
Jeffrey S. Lubbers

12 The Internet and the Madisonian Cycle: Possibilities and Prospects for Consultative Representation
David Lazer, Michael Neblo, and Kevin Esterling

III- The Legal Architecture of Online Consultation

13 Legal Frameworks and Institutional Contexts for Public Consultation Regarding Administrative Actionfor Executive-Branch Actions: The United States
Peter L. Strauss

14 Legal Frameworks and Institutional Contexts for Public Consultation Regarding Administrative Action for Executive-Branch Actions:  The European Union
Polona Picman Stefancic

15 The Legal Environment for Electronic Democracy
Peter M. Shane and Polona Picman Stefancic

16 E-Democracy, Transnational Organizations, and the Challenge of New Techno-Iintermediation
Oren Perez

IV- Conclusion

17 Making the E-Citizen: A Socio-Technical Approach to Democracy
Stephen Coleman

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