Digital Government and Democratic Legitimacy

Digital Government and Democratic Legitimacy

P. M. Shane (The Ohio State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-789-8.ch051
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The current flush of worldwide interest in digital government coincides with considerable anxiety, even discontent, with the performance of predigital democratic governments, including democratic governments in what seem to be highly functional societies. Primary causes for this malaise involve an interlocking set of complex phenomena. These include globalization, the marketization or privatization of ever-larger aspects of our social and economic life, challenges to the vitality of national political identities that are supportive of democracy, a pervasive sense that government is increasingly driven by special interests rather than a genuinely public interest, and the alienation of the ordinary citizen from governments that seem increasingly remote and indifferent (Castells, 1997). Although few still tout the Internet and universal interconnection as promising by themselves to cure all political ills, the fact is that hopes for digital government run high across the developed world. This enthusiasm seems linked to a yearning for improvements not just in government efficiency, but also in democratic legitimacy. It is the potential linkage between digital government and democratic legitimacy that this article will explore. My thesis is twofold: first, that digital government has enormous potential for enhancing democratic legitimacy, but second, it can realize that potential only if implemented with democratic principles in mind and if designed to fulfill multiple models of democratic legitimacy.1

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