Social Media and Counter-Democracy: The Contingences of Participation

  • Peter Dahlgren
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7444)


As democracy goes through various crisis and citizens increasingly disengage with traditional party politics, extra-parliamentarian, alternative modes of democratic politics emerge on many fronts; manifesting a development towards what is called counter-democracy. Debates on the role of the internet in democracy have been with us since its inception; today the discussions focus on social media, which have quickly emerged as public sphere sites and tools for democratic participation. My argument rests on the notion of contingency: the factors that make a phenomenon possible but also that delimit it. In this presentation I look at some key contingencies of political economy, technology, and socio-cultural patterns and how they impact on the spaces of online participation and the forms of identity that they foster. In particular I note the emergence of what I call the solo sphere as a mode of participation that has debilitating consequences for alternative politics.


social media political participation counter-democracy web environment civic engagement 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Dahlgren
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Communication and MediaLund UniversityLundSweden

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