Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2008, Madison, Wisconsin, Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the ISSS

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Digital Democracy and Citizenship as the Democratic Political Systems for the Information Age

Ilsoo Cho


Representative democracies throughout the world are undergoing major transformations with strong challenges from well-armored citizenry with ICTs. Voter turnout rates have been steady decline since 1960s in the world, while other forms of political participation of citizens, e.g., popular initiatives and recalls, powerful NGOs, and so on, have been increasing. Into what form will our democratic political systems evolve in the information age. There might be many possibilities to redesign the democratic political systems. ‘Digital democracy’ could be one of the strong alternatives for the new political systems. It is composed of two processes: democratic decision making processes and effective administrating processes. It not only resolves some problems of representative democracy, e.g., the failure of representation, but also takes advantage of some traits, e.g. the emphasis on interaction, process and change, etc., that direct democracy and deliberative democracy are believed to have. Technological feasibility, unfortunately, does not necessarily entail political possibility. If we intend to realize the potentialities of digital democracy, we have to solve some problems anticipated in the information age such as political fragmentation and atomization, overloaded information, tyranny of the majority, etc. In order to overcome these problems and, thus, to make full use of the potential of digital democracy, we have to become citizens with self-guiding capacity. In other words, liberalistic perspectives, which stress civic autonomy, seem more appropriate than communitarian perspectives, which stress civic virtues, for democratic citizenship in the information age.

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