Citizen Consultaions via Government Web Sites
M. Holzer (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—Newark, USA) and R. W. Schwester (John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY), USA)
Copyright: © 2007
Cynicism toward government is largely a function of trust and social capital (Berman 1997; Putnam 2000). The relationship between government and its citizens has been strained. First, some citizens cynically feel as though government officials abuse their powers in the interest of self-aggrandizement; second, citizens often feel disconnected from government; third, government service delivery is frequently portrayed as inadequate. Administrative strategies to reverse these perceptions typically emphasize the benefits of government and improved service delivery. Some go further, offering individuals a means of influencing public policy and government decision-making, as opposed to traditional structures and cultures of policymaking that minimize citizen input. The Internet is a potentially powerful means for citizen consultation, and may help cultivate a governmental landscape in which information is more accessible, people feel more connected to government, and citizens are better able to participate in political and decision-making processes. This article examines the Internet as a consultative medium, whereby emphasis is placed on government efforts to use Web-based applications as a means of promoting meaningful citizen participation.