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Deliberative Manoeuvres in the Digital Darkness: e-Democracy Policy in the UK


  • Giles Moss,

  • Stephen Coleman

Research Highlights and Abstract

This article

  • Critically reviews e-democracy policy thinking in the UK.
  • Surveys and evaluates e-democracy activity in key areas, including online forums, open government and data, e-petitioning, and more recent ‘crowdsourcing’ initiatives.
  • Defends the on-going importance of a more deliberative approach to e-democracy policy and practice.

This paper evaluates the UK Government's e-democracy policy and considers what lesson should be learned for future policy and practice. Despite some isolated examples of success, we argue that policy experimentation in the area has been disappointing overall, especially when compared with the ambitious rhetoric that has surrounded it, and has failed to culminate in a coherent strategy for using the Internet to support democratic citizenship. Our analysis emphasizes the on-going importance of online deliberation in achieving inclusive, informed, and negotiated policy formation and political decision-making. In the absence of inclusive sites and practices of public deliberation, the democratic value of non-deliberative experiments with petitioning and crowdsourcing and recent government efforts to open up public information and data for citizen auditing and evaluation is likely to remain limited.

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