Inside Government: The role of policy actors in shaping e-democracy in the UK

Thesis by Mary Houston: “The thesis focuses on the emergence of e-democracy in the UK between 1999 and 2013. It examines the part that policy actors have played in shaping the agenda. Emphasis is placed on how e-democracy is understood by those charged with developing initiatives and implementing government policy on e-democracy. Previous research on e-democracy has focused largely on the impact of Web technologies on political systems and/or on how, why and to what degree, citizens participate. Less attention is paid to what happens inside government, in how policy actors’ conceive public engagement in the policy process. Their perceptions and shared understandings are crucial to the commissioning, implementation, or deflection of participatory opportunities. This thesis is concerned with exploring how policy actors experience, interpret and negotiate e-democracy policy and practices and their perceptions of citizen involvement in the policy process. Competing discourses shape institutional expectations of e-democracy in the UK. The research examines how policy actors draw upon wider discourses such as the modernisation of government and the emphasis on transparency. It analyses understandings of technologies in government and the effects of relational interactions and linkages in policy and practice….(More)”