Emerging Online Democracy: The Dynamics of Formal and Informal Control in Digitally Mediated Social Structures

Emerging Online Democracy: The Dynamics of Formal and Informal Control in Digitally Mediated Social Structures

Todd Kelshaw (Montclair State University, USA) and Christine A. Lemesianou (Montclair State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-984-7.ch119
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Abstract

The emergence and development of Web 2.0 has enabled new modes of social interaction that are potentially democratic, both within and across digitally mediated venues. Web-based interaction offers unlimited opportunities for organizing across geographic, demographic, and contextual boundaries, with ramifications in professional networking, political action, friendships, romances, learning, recreation, and entertainment. The authors conceptualize the democratization of Web-based social structures, defining online democracy as an imperfect balance of formal and informal modes of discursive control. The wrangling between formal and informal modes of discursive control ensures perpetual dynamism and innovation; the wrangling also offers the promise that diverse voices are not only welcome but also potentially responsive and responsible. The conclusion advocated is the importance of paying attention to these tendencies since they demonstrate that the Web’s proclivities for decentralization and pluralism do not necessarily lead to relativistic and nihilistic hypertextuality but to potentially novel forms of shared social control.

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