The Use of Social Networks in Achieving e-Democracy in the Arab Spring Countries

The Use of Social Networks in Achieving e-Democracy in the Arab Spring Countries

Hany Abdelghaffar (German University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt) and Lobna Hassan (German University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJEA.2016070102
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Abstract

Electronic democracy (e-democracy) is a way to engage citizens and politicians with their government through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) tools. Although the concept of e-democracy has been growing during the past years, few studies have examined how to achieve success of e-democracy via social networks. This research is answering the following question: How social networks support the local government decision making to enhance e-democracy? To answer the research question, a proposed model was introduced and a survey method was employed. Findings showed that governments could use social networks to facilitate awareness of information among citizens and support citizens in building their communities. Furthermore, social networks would help to facilitate deliberation among citizens. However, this should be supported with appropriate level of involvements from the government side in the discussion to provide support. Through this, governments could enhance their decision making.
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Theoretical Background

E-democracy is a mean of providing a system that empowers citizens to say their opinions regarding government issues using ICT (Mahrer & Krimmer, 2005). Several benefits could be achieved from e-democracy. It enhances participation and inclusion of citizens in the political life (Riley and Law, 2003; Thomas and Streib, 2005). Citizens can have their input into the decisions made by their government which shifts the communications methods from one way of communications to become two ways (Stahl, 2005).

There are different classifications of e-democracy (Paivarinta & Saebo, 2006). Partisan e-democracy is one of the e-democracy classifications that focuses on the implicit and embedded citizen participation and contribution in the decision-making process. Another type is the direct e-democracy which focuses on how the network-based groups takes over or replaces traditional institutions which could lead to losing their power against the network-based groups. Liberal e-democracy occurs when citizens participate in the decision-making processes with agendas that have been set by the government itself. Finally, deliberative e-democracy which considers that both citizens and government are connected in the decision-making processes. Accordingly, politicians and citizens share their ideas in a dialogue to form a shared political opinion. Deliberative e-democracy represents a perfect model for e-democracy as the co-operation between citizens and politicians represents and explains the display of power for both sides.

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