Abstract - The Information Society 12(4)

Engendering democratic participation via the Net: Access, voice, and dialogue

Nancy B. Kurland and Terri D. Egan

Information technology in the form of the Internet and its commercial offspring (the Net) has received much attention as a vehicle to increase political participation. The potential of the Net, a vast, loosely coupled system of electronic forums, for facilitating and hindering democratic participation is discussed. In so do ing, five assumptions that undergird the claim that the Net will enhance democratic participation and suggest that increased democratic participation rests on three fundamental characteristics are presented: 1. access, 2. voice, and 3. dialogue. In order for this network of electronic forums to facilitate democratic participation, educational, economic, and cultural barriers to access, voice, and dialogue must be overcome.

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