The notions of deliberation and the frame of the discourse theory of democracy (Habermas, 1996), have inspired a substantial strand of studies focused on the internet’s democratic potential (See e.g. Kellner (1999), Rheingold (1993), and Wilhelm (1999)). The central accomplishment of these various contributions lies in the assessment of the extent to which dialogical exchanges taking place in the cyberspace conform to the normative requirements of the ‘counter-factual ideal’ of public sphere (Dryzek, 1990). However, the contradictions that appear when analyzing practical research findings from a comparative global view, pose a dilemma that deals more with theoretical assumptions rather than with the empirical methods applied. The basic aim of the chapter is to organize critical discussion of the feasibility to consider deliberation as the unique normative benchmark for the assessment of the democratic potential of new media. For thispurpose, two major lines of reasoning will be developed. On one hand, the theoretical roots of the concept of deliberation and the long wave of criticisms drawn out by them, will be explored in order to underscore the intrinsic shortages of the notion. On the other hand, it will be argued that the empirical experiences coming from the web make the ideal of the deliberative public sphere even less useful in order to understand the political dimension that is taking place on it. Consequently, a ‘cultural turn’ of the analytic perspective will be proposed. Drawing from the model of ‘civic cultures’, developed by Dahlgren (2009), the article will end by suggesting a set of parameters for the analysis of online communication processes within their social and cultural preconditions.

(2010). An analysis of online shared spaces becoming public agoras . Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10446/162140

An analysis of online shared spaces becoming public agoras

Murru, M. F.
2010-01-01

Abstract

The notions of deliberation and the frame of the discourse theory of democracy (Habermas, 1996), have inspired a substantial strand of studies focused on the internet’s democratic potential (See e.g. Kellner (1999), Rheingold (1993), and Wilhelm (1999)). The central accomplishment of these various contributions lies in the assessment of the extent to which dialogical exchanges taking place in the cyberspace conform to the normative requirements of the ‘counter-factual ideal’ of public sphere (Dryzek, 1990). However, the contradictions that appear when analyzing practical research findings from a comparative global view, pose a dilemma that deals more with theoretical assumptions rather than with the empirical methods applied. The basic aim of the chapter is to organize critical discussion of the feasibility to consider deliberation as the unique normative benchmark for the assessment of the democratic potential of new media. For thispurpose, two major lines of reasoning will be developed. On one hand, the theoretical roots of the concept of deliberation and the long wave of criticisms drawn out by them, will be explored in order to underscore the intrinsic shortages of the notion. On the other hand, it will be argued that the empirical experiences coming from the web make the ideal of the deliberative public sphere even less useful in order to understand the political dimension that is taking place on it. Consequently, a ‘cultural turn’ of the analytic perspective will be proposed. Drawing from the model of ‘civic cultures’, developed by Dahlgren (2009), the article will end by suggesting a set of parameters for the analysis of online communication processes within their social and cultural preconditions.
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