Towards a New Democratic Political Communication: Information Communication Technologies and Politics

  • Gary D. Rawnsley


Writing in 1993, Harry Rheingold in the quotation above captures the idealism that pervades discussion of the social and political impact of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), especially the Internet. Their widespread use and potential have suggested nothing less than a revolution in political communication: their speed, their promise of greater levels of interactivity and connectivity,1 the absence of hierarchies and the possibilities offered by an unfettered and unmediated source of communication have together contributed their appeal to democratic theory. Idealists claim that the Internet has the capacity to transform political life by creating networks of globally or locally active citizens and by developing public spheres where they can participate in decision-making and help set the political agenda (Rheingold, 1993; Negroponte, 1995; Grossman, 1995; Schwartz, 1996; Budge, 1996; Brants et al., 1996; Tsagarousianou et al., 1997; Dertouzos, 1997). They believe that the Internet offers the reaffirmation of direct democracy through the creation of ‘virtual forums’ or new public spaces that will have particular relevance for the proliferating networks of global social movements. The Internet bestows upon civil society a selection of fundamentally new communication strategies that have the capacity to transform their more traditional approaches that we discussed in Chapter 4.


Social Movement Chinese Communist Party Political Communication Political Life Digital Divide 
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Copyright information

© Gary D. Rawnsley 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary D. Rawnsley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NottinghamNingboChina (UNNC)

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