E-Democracy and Local Government - Dashed Expectations

E-Democracy and Local Government - Dashed Expectations

Peter J. Smith (Athabasca University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch129
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Abstract

This article examines the impact of information and communications technologies (ICTs) on electronic democracy at the local government level. It concentrates on measures taken by local governments in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to transform their relationship to citizens by means of e-democracy. The emphasis on democracy is particularly important in an era when governments at all levels are said to be facing a democratic deficit (Hale, Musso, & Weare, 1999; Juillet & Paquet, 2001). Yet, as this article argues by means of an examination of the available evidence in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, e-democracy has failed to deepen democracy at the local level, this at a time when local government is said to be becoming more important in people’s lives (Mälkiä & Savolainen, 2004). The first part of the article briefly summarizes the arguments on behalf of the growing importance of the city as a major locus of economic and political activity. It then discusses how e-democracy relates to e-government in general. Next, it discusses the normative relationship between two models of democracy and ICTs. The article then reviews the evidence to date of e-democracy at the local level of government in the aforementioned countries. Finally, it discusses why e-democracy has not lived up to expectations highlighting the dominance of neo-liberalism.

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