The Digital Citizen

The Digital Citizen

Zizi Papacharissi (Temple University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-939-7.ch010
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Abstract

The objective of this article is to sketch out the profile of the digital citizen. The premise for this article rests upon utopian views that embrace new media technologies as democratizers of postindustrial society (e.g., Bell, 1981; Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Kling, 1996; Negroponte, 1998; Rheingold, 1993) and cautionary criticism that questions the substantial impact new media could have on reviving a dormant public sphere (e.g., Bimber & Davis, 2003; Davis, 1999; Hill & Hughes, 1998; Jankowski & van Selm, 2000; Jones, 1997; Margolis & Resnick, 2000; Scheufele & Nisbet, 2002). Concurrently, declining participation in traditional forms of political involvement and growing public cynicism (e.g., Cappella & Jamieson, 1996, 1997; Fallows, 1996; Patterson, 1993, 1996) position the Internet and related technologies as vehicles through which political activity can be reinvented. Still, conflicting narratives on civic involvement, as articulated by the government, politicians, the media, and the public, create confusion about the place and role of the citizen in a digital age. The digital citizen profile, therefore, is defined by historical and cultural context, divided between expectation and skepticism regarding new media, and presents hope of resurrecting the public sphere and awakening a latent, postmodern political consciousness. This article outlines these conditions, reviews perceptions of the digital citizen, and proposes a digital citizen role model for the future.

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