La sfera pubblica virtuale nello spazio locale

Author/s Chiara Sebastiani
Publishing Year 2008 Issue 2009/1 Language Italian
Pages 24 P. 19-42 File size 132 KB
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The virtual public sphere in the local space This article aims to explore whether and how new information technologies support political participation in local communities moving from Habermas’ later conceptual definition and empirical representation of the public sphere as: a) a space of political action with a specific political function, linking civil society to political institutions; b) a space organised on three levels, two of which based on face-toface interactions and one abstract level which includes both traditional media and media based on new technologies. Afterwards, it will considered how in recent years the potentialities of the virtual public sphere have been increasingly explored in political decision-making processes on the local level, as a structure favouring local democracy through public deliberation and direct participation on issues relevant to local communities. It will be noticed that the virtual space (namely the internet) produces a new level of the public sphere only under specific conditions as, in contrast to the potential universality of inclusion which characterises the public sphere, it may also produce dynamics of exclusion from and restriction (or destruction) of the public sphere. Thus the political significance and effectiveness of a public sphere based on new information and communication technologies depends on the structure and resources of participant networks as well as on the relationship with the traditional media. The article ends with a critical view on edemocracy as a concept which tends nowadays to include a number of top-down institutionalised participatory practices and devices some of which, far from representing a means of political empowerment, are at the best instruments of good administration and at the worst of depoliticization and manipulation. Keywords: Public Sphere; New Information and Communication Technologies; Local Democracy; Political Participation.

Chiara Sebastiani, La sfera pubblica virtuale nello spazio locale in "PARTECIPAZIONE E CONFLITTO" 1/2009, pp 19-42, DOI: