Rethinking the digital democratic affordance and its impact on political representation: Toward a new framework

Paper by Marco Deseriis: “This article advances a new theory of the digital democratic affordance, a concept first introduced by Lincoln Dahlberg to devise a taxonomy of the democratic capacities of digital media applications. Whereas Dahlberg classifies digital media affordances on the basis of preexisting democratic positions, the article argues that the primary affordance of digital media is to abate the costs of political participation.

This cost-reducing logic of digital media has diverging effects on political participation. On an institutional level, digital democracy applications allow elected representatives to monitor and consult their constituents, closing some gaps in the circuits of representation. On a societal level, digital media allow constituents to organize and represent their own interests directly. In the former case, digital affordances work instrumentally in the service of representative democracy; in the latter, digital democratic affordances provide a mobilized public with emerging tools that put pressure on the autonomy of representatives….(More)”.