Föreställningar om IT och demokrati [Conceptions of IT and Democracy]

Lars Ilshammar


The notion of "e-democracy" is strong in today's society. But where does this notion come from? This paper traces the historical roots of the ICT and democracy discourse. One goes back to the theoretical "discovery of the information society" in the 1960s. Another root is associated with the practical development of the Internet and other digital networks in the 1980s and onwards. These separate roots, however, seem to be connected to different concepts of democracy: basically traditional representative democracy vs. direct democracy. The paper examines these models closely and raises the question of how different models of democracy are linked to top-down and bottom-up perspectives and how each of these requires rather different ICT support. It is argued that any attempt to improve democracy with the help of ICT should not start with technology itself but with an analysis of what model of democracy is most desirable.

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