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The Concise Encyclopedia of Communication by Wolfgang Donsbach

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E

E-Democracy

Thomas Zittel

Goethe-University Frankfurt

The concept of electronic democracy implies the use of electronic media of communication to facilitate political participation and thus to enhance democracy (→ Participatory Communication). It should be kept distinct from ’electronic participation.’ The latter focuses on the communication strategies of individual citizens while the former emphasizes the media choices of political authorities and related governmental policies. Research on electronic democracy is built upon a number of core research questions asking about the specific uses of electronic media in democratic contexts, their prerequisites, and their larger ramifications for the democratic process (Coleman & Blumler 2008; Chadwick & Howard 2010).

Research on the specific uses of electronic media stresses three basic models of electronic democracy. A first model perceives new electronic media as a cost-effective means for direct decision-making via electronic voting. From this perspective, electronic media provide citizens with the necessary information on the issues at stake. Individual choices could then be taken via a simple push of a button in private homes, could be electronically transferred, and could be aggregated in a central computer controlled by voting authorities. A second model portrays electronic media primarily as a means to better link representatives with their constituents and to reform the electoral process. According to this view, electronic ...

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