Reinventing the Democratic Governance Project through Information Technology? A Growing Agenda for Debate

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Abstract

Postindustrial societies have arrived at a moment of immense democratic and entrepreneurial opportunities that has been made possible by information technology. At the same time, however, these opportunities pose potential threats if they are not debated and planned for in consensually–legitimate ways. This article examines the current problems of representative democracy and the impact of information technology on the current and future quality of democratic governance. Four generic models of “electronic democracy” that are made possible by interactive information Technologies—electronic bureaucracy, information management, populist, and civil society—are analyzed in terms of their applicability and impact. Information technology’s impact on the roles, responsibilities, and accountability of citizens, elected representatives, the media, and corporations is also examined. This article proposes strategies for reinventing democratic governance, including recognizing community values, accommodating critical debate, and providing access for citizen participation in policy analysis.

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