The Political in the Age of the Digital: Propositions for Empirical Investigation



This article establishes whether there is a case for revising traditional accounts of politics and the public sphere given the ways in which digital technology is now being used in Western and non-Western settings to engage people politically. The article presents a case for framing this inquiry in terms of imaginaries. It then argues for a new political imaginary which helps to specify what is required for deliberative democratic practice in a way that shifts us away from the dominant liberal-utilitarian political imaginary that currently informs the political value systems of most Western nations. Drawing on the work of key political theorists such as Habermas and Dahlgren, five propositions or conditions for deliberative practice are identified that can be used in empirical investigation to help determine the democratic capacity and potential of new political communication and civic spaces being opened by means of digital media.