Reinventing Participation: Civic Agency and the Web Environment

New paper by Peter Dahlgren: “Participation is a key concept in the vocabulary of democracy, and can encompass a variety of dimensions. Moreover, it can be shaped by a range of different factors; my emphasis here is on the significance of the web environment in this regard. I first situate participation against the backdrop of democracy’s contemporary developments, including the onslaught of neolibealism. From there I offer a set of parameters that can help us grasp participation both conceptually and empirically: trajectory, visibility, voice , and sociality, and relate these to the affordances of the digital media. Thereafter I explore the cultural resources necessary for the facilitation of participation; for this I make use of a six-dimensional model of civic cultures. My discussion focuses on two of the dimensions, practices and identities; I again relate these to the web environment. I conclude with a dilemma that online democratic participation faces, namely what I call the isolation of the solo sphere, yet affirm that we are justified in maintaining a guarded optimism about the future of participation.”