American Electronic Constitution: Reinventing Government and Neo-Liberal Corporatism

American Electronic Constitution: Reinventing Government and Neo-Liberal Corporatism

Fortunato Musella (University of Naples Federico II, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-254-1.ch004
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Abstract

The chapter is dedicated at analyzing the strategic use of new technologies in the United States. An evident synergy has been noted between the digital policy projects and the neo-liberal ideology wave that has traced origin in the fiscal crisis of the State in the 1970s. About four decades have transformed some political directions in true imperatives: public sector downsizing, cost-cutting in public agencies, decision-making privatization, and the principle of efficiency as a measure of collective action. If new public management has been imposed as a dominant paradigm for administrative restructuring, ICTs programs sustain reform objectives by putting emphasis on the sure advantages of technological applications. In addition to this, administrative reforms seem to be in continuity with some American historical tradition, in reasserting a central role of private actor in public activities and realizing a significant “fusion of political and economic power”. Digital era seems to have added a new chapter to the American corporate liberalism history, with the difference – and the aggravating circumstance – that private organizations have now more powerful instruments to control and regulate society. New technological instruments seem to be used essentially to produce a neo-liberal interpretation of government activities.
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Introduction

The more widespread interpretations of the strategic use of new technologies start usually from their democratic promises. With specific reference to the United States, it has be argued that digital policy may intervene as a remedy for the three evils bothering the society: «poor communication between general public and decision-makers in the political system; a lack of political participation, either caused by structural or functional deficits in the political system; and a negative effect of mass media both on the political system in general and on political participation in particular» (Hagen, 2003). Literature on information technologies is generally concentrated on the themes of public involvement, besides appearing empirically disconnected and infused of optimism (Garson, 2003). For instance Grossman states that interactive technologies «make it possible to revive, in a sophisticated modern form, some of the essential characteristics of the ancient world’s first democratic polities» (Grossman, 1995: p. 48, in Needham, 2004, p.43)1. Also an entry of the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences has been dedicated to the concept of “e-democracy”, confirming that it «refers to the use of information technology to expedite or transform the idea and practice of democracy» (Street, 2001). No room is left to other critical questions of the ICTs adoption: how new technologies contribute to change power relationships inside and outside the State? Do they impact on existing disparities among groups and geopolitical areas? What kind of political program they help to promote?

The following chapter moves from the hypothesis that new technologies have a deep impact on political structures and representations, even if it does not probably produce a return to Greek polis. The Internet presents a systemic impact on several areas between market-politics, so that it seems to justify the reference to a sort of constitutive function2. Indeed it seems to contribute to a strategy of reorganization of political institutional systems at the national as well as at global level on several areas. Also starting from the statement according to which the so-called “information society” may represent an obstacle for democracy, a true “false-friend” (Agre, 1999), several authors have confirmed that new technologies encourage new social, political and economic structures: «the change brought about by the networked information environment is deep. It is structural. It goes to the very foundations of how liberal markets and liberal democracies have coevolved for almost two centuries»3 (Benkler, 2006: 1). On other side other scholars have underlined that representations—and myths—on cyberspace, and in association with them images of information age, globalization and e-democracy, may act as a powerful instrument to justify concrete political choices and depoliticize speech (Mosco, 2004: 16). Although the Internet seems to deal with a «story about how ever smaller, faster, cheaper, and better computers and communication technologies help to realize, with little effort, those seemingly impossible dreams of democracy and community with practically no pressure on the natural environment» (Mosco, 1998: 59), it produces relevant changes in power relations even tending to conceal such implication. The use of new technologies, far to constitute a neutral and forced option, seems to be part of an ampler neo-liberal program.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Acknowledgment
Francesco Amoretti
Chapter 1
Francesco Amoretti
In “Electronic Constitution: A Braudelian Perspective”, Francesco Amoretti presents a model for the analysis of time and space structures of digital... Sample PDF
Electronic Constitution: A Braudelian Perspective
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Chapter 2
Mauro Di Meglio, Enrico Gargiulo
This chapter offers a long-term perspective on citizenship, questioning one of the basic assumptions of most of the literature on this topic, that... Sample PDF
Old and New Rights: E-Citizenship in Historical Perspective
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Chapter 3
Oreste Ventrone
Following the diffusion of e-government in the high income countries, international organizations, notably UN, OECD, World Bank, have promoted the... Sample PDF
International Organizations, E-Government and Development
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Chapter 4
Fortunato Musella
The chapter is dedicated at analyzing the strategic use of new technologies in the United States. An evident synergy has been noted between the... Sample PDF
American Electronic Constitution: Reinventing Government and Neo-Liberal Corporatism
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Chapter 5
Francesco Amoretti, Fortunato Musella
The challenge of convergence has become a core issue in the European agenda, as the existence of widely accepted administrative standards represents... Sample PDF
The European Administrative Space and E-Government Policies: Between Integration and Competition
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Chapter 6
Clementina Casula
The rhetoric used worldwide by policymakers in promoting the uptake of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) emphasizes the advantages... Sample PDF
The EU and the Information Society: From E-Knowledge to E-Inclusion, in Search of Global Leadership
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Chapter 7
Nicolas Pejout
Many of African States are focusing on ICTs and developing e-government infrastructures in order to fasten and improve their “formalisation... Sample PDF
World Wide Weber: Formalise, Normalise, Rationalise
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Chapter 8
Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, Connie Ofori-Dankwa
Several African countries have begun to introduce and implement Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policies. In the context of such... Sample PDF
ICT Challenges and Opportunities for Institutionalizing Democracy in Ghana: An Integrative Review of the Literature
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Chapter 9
Chin-fu Hung
China has vigorously implemented ICTs to foster ongoing informatization accompanying industrialization as a crucial pillar to drive its future... Sample PDF
The Politics of the Governing the Information and Communications Technologies in East Asian Authoritarian States: Case Study of China
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Chapter 10
Claudia Padovani, Elena Pavan
Political processes are undergoing profound changes due to the challenges imposed by globalization processes to the legitimacy of policy actors and... Sample PDF
Information Networks, Internet Governance and Innovation in World Politics
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Chapter 11
Mauro Santaniello
The Internet Governance debate has, for a long time, been influenced by a well-defined characterization of information networks. The depiction of a... Sample PDF
Who Governs Cyberspace? Internet Governance and Power Structures in Digital Networks
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Chapter 12
Diego Giannone
Starting from the assumption that any technology embeds the ideology, politics and culture of the society where it was created, this chapter... Sample PDF
Measuring ICT: Political and Methodological Aspects
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Chapter 13
Paolo Landri
This chapter is dedicated to analyse the fabrication of networked socialities, that is to address the complex interweaving of technologies of... Sample PDF
The Fabrication of Networked Socialities
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Chapter 14
Virtual Nations  (pages 224-241)
William Sims Bainbridge
Virtual worlds are computer environments in which large numbers of human beings may interact, do useful work for each others, and build enduring... Sample PDF
Virtual Nations
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Chapter 15
Francesco Amoretti
This volume does not constitute yet another account of the blessings of ICTs. Nor does it add new criticism to the old, nurturing fears about the... Sample PDF
A Research Agenda for the Future
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About the Contributors