Abstract - The Information Society 18(5)

Real-Time Politics: The Internet and the Political Process

Research on the Internet's role in politics has struggled to transcend technological determinism -- the assumption, often inadvertent, that the technology simply imprints its own logic on social relationships. An alternative approach traces the ways, often numerous, in which an institution's participants appropriate the technology in the service of goals, strategies, and relationships that the institution has already organized. This amplification model can be applied in analyzing the Internet's role in politics. After critically surveying a list of widely held views on the matter, this paper illustrates how the amplification model might be applied to concrete problems. These include the development of social networks and ways that technology is used to bind people together into a polity.

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