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Open Government and Democracy: A Research Review
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5962-1536
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences. The International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA, Austria.
2015 (English)In: Social science computer review, ISSN 0894-4393, E-ISSN 1552-8286, Vol. 33, no 5, 540-555 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The concept of open government, having been promoted widely in the past 5 years, has promised a broader notion than e-government, as supposed to fundamentally transform governments to become more open and participative and collaborative. Unfortunately, this has not significantly enhanced a set of fundamental problems regarding e-government. One of the problems is that the underlying democratic ideology is rarely clearly expressed. In this paper, we have therefore constructed a framework for the analysis of open government from a democratic perspective, to explore the research foundation of open government and the types of research missing. We have looked closely at the notion of democracy in peer-reviewed journals on open government from 2009 to 2013, focusing on discussions of some fundamental issues regarding democracy and the type of solutions suggested. We have found that despite seemingly good intentions and an extensive rhetoric, there is still an apparent lack of adequate tools in which public deliberation and representation are addressed in any meaningful sense. There are two main important observations herein: (i) the rhetoric in the dominant discourse supports the concept of open government formulated by the Obama administration as transparency, participation, and collaboration, but in practice, the focus is predominantly on transparency and information exchange, while ignoring fundamental democratic issues regarding participation and collaboration, and (ii) the concept of the public is inadequately considered as a homogenous entity rather than a diversified group with different interests, preferences, and abilities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 33, no 5, 540-555 p.
Keyword [en]
decision support, online representation, digital inclusion, public deliberation, collaborative government, open government, e-government
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-112564DOI: 10.1177/0894439314560847ISI: 000360817500002OAI: diva2:779423
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2011-3313-20412-31
Available from: 2015-01-12 Created: 2015-01-12 Last updated: 2015-10-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Accommodating differences: Power, belonging, and representation online
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Accommodating differences: Power, belonging, and representation online
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How can political participatory processes online be understood in the dynamic, conflicted and highly mediated situations of contemporary society? What does democracy mean in a scenario where inequality and difference are the norms, and where people tend to abandon situations in which they and their interests are not recognized? How can we accommodate differences rather than consensus in a scenario where multiple networks of people are the starting point rather than a single community?

In this thesis, these questions are explored through an iterative process in two studies that have used or resulted in three prototypes and one art exhibition. The first study is of communication practices in a global interest community, which resulted in two prototypes: Actory, a groupware that takes differences rather than equality as the starting point for a collaborative tool, and The Affect Machine, a social network where differences are used as a relational capital. The second study is of communication practices in a local commonality where the art exhibition Performing the Common created a public space and involved participants. This resulted in Njaru, a collaborative tool with integrated decision support and visualization of representativeness.

In summary, these works depart from the notion of the importance of belonging for e-participation, where the individual can be seen as a participant in several performative states, more or less interconnected trans-local publics. Here the individuals’ participation in the local public sphere compete with their participation in other communities, and affect the conditions for local democracy. This thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of these processes, and discusses how differences in democratic participation can be managed with the help of ICT.

Abstract [sv]

Hur kan politiskt deltagande på Internet förstås, i de dynamiska, konfliktfyllda och medierade situationerna i dagens samhälle? Vad innebär demokrati i ett scenario där ojämlikhet och skillnad är normen och där människor tenderar att överge situationer där de själva och deras intressen inte erkänns? Hur kan vi hantera skillnader snarare än konsensus i ett scenario där flera nätverk av människor är utgångspunkten i stället för en enda gemenskap?

I denna avhandling har dessa frågor utforskas genom en iterativ process i två studier som har använt eller resulterat i tre prototyper och en konstutställning. Den första studien gäller kommunikationen i en global intressegemenskap vilket resulterade i två prototyper: Actory, som tar olikheter snarare än jämlikhet som utgångspunkt för ett samarbetsverktyg, och The Affect Machine, ett socialt nätverk där olikheter används som ett relationskapital. Den andra studien gäller kommunikationen i en lokal gemenskap där konstutställningen Föreställningar om det gemensamma skapat ett offentligt rum och engagerade deltagare. Resultatet resulterade bland annat i Njaru, ett samarbetsverktyg med integrerat beslutsstöd och visualisering av graden av representativitet i processen.

Sammanfattningsvis utgår dessa arbeten från en idé om vikten av tillhörighet för e-deltagande, där individen kan ses som en deltagare i flera performativa stater, mer eller mindre sammankopplade translokala målgrupper. Här konkurrerar individernas deltagande i den lokala offentligheten med deras deltagande i andra samhällen, och påverkar förutsättningarna för lokal demokrati. Denna avhandling bidrar till en djupare förståelse av dessa processer, och diskuterar hur skillnaderna i demokratiskt deltagande kan hanteras med hjälp av IKT.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2014. 133 p.
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 15-004
e-participation, e-democracy, online identity, artistic research, visual method, participatory method, belonging, singularity, performative states
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108836 (URN)978-91-7649-084-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-20, Lilla hörsalen, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, 13:00 (English)
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2011-3313-20412-31ICT - The Next Generation

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 8: Submitted.

Available from: 2015-02-26 Created: 2014-11-04 Last updated: 2015-03-03Bibliographically approved

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