Digital Disempowerment in a Network Society

Digital Disempowerment in a Network Society

Kenneth L. Hacker (New Mexico State University, USA), Shana M. Mason (New Mexico State University, USA) and Eric L. Morgan (New Mexico State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-986-1.ch059
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The objective of this article is to examine how the inequalities of participation in network society governmental systems affect the extent that individuals are empowered or disempowered within those systems. By using published data in conjunction with theories of communication, a critical secondary data analysis was conducted. This critical analysis argues that the Digital Divide involves issues concerning how democracy and democratization are related to computer-mediated communication (CMC) and its role in political communication. As the roles of CMC/ICT systems expand in political communication, existing Digital Divide gaps are likely to contribute to structural inequalities in political participation. These inequalities work against democracy and political empowerment for some people, while at the same time producing expanded opportunities of political participation for others. This raises concerns about who benefits the most from electronic government in emerging network societies.

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