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Deliberation on the Internet: Talkboard discussions on the UK Parliamentarian Elections 2001

Author / Editor:

Winkler, Roman


This paper questions the potential of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to enhance political participation and democratic involvement. The presented case study examines the functionality of the electronic talkboard provided by the British daily newspaper The Guardian in the context of the British Parliamentarian Elections 2001. Based upon the theoretical concept of civic deliberation (such as provided by Juergen Habermas), a content analysis of the postings of the Guardian talkboard revealed the emergence of micro public spheres as incubators for rational-critical debates on political issues. The empirical findings suggest that the Internet is not a place for mass deliberation in the political area but a platform for small or highly focused communities to exchange political views, share information and learn from each other. Considering the relevance of socio-economic and cultural frameworks within which new media operate, the author stresses the importance of the prevailing political culture, which finally enables and determines deliberative communication among citizens in the offline- and online world.


in: Medien Journal 3/2002, 33-50



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