Cornfield, Michael. "The Internet and Democratic Participation." National Civic Review, Fall 2000 v89 i3 p235.

Keywords: democracy, participation


This article examines what on-line public affairs initiatives promise for democracy. To assess just how on-line initiatives are affecting democracy, the author claims that we must expand the current methods of analyzing democracy. He suggests that we look beyond the obvious benefits of the Internet to other indicators of democratic participation qualitative and quantitative. We must look beyond the Internets ability to enhance participation; we must try to assess in what ways using the Internet can enhance participation. A few examples: the Internet allows the citizenry to use a deliberative pace when evaluating information. Deliberation is a prime democratic value. The Internet can be used as a vehicle to transform emotions into public action. Because the Internet enables the collection and processing of data in ways unheard of or impractical before, theorists of democracy and communications can study the Internets impact empirically by examining dialogue between people across space and time. The author ends by claiming that one of the most important things we can do, as a democracy, is to advocate discourse research, which focuses on the Internet.