(E-)participation and civil society in the age of the Internet (SESSION 1)

Room: 
Hilton Meeting Room 1
Time Slot: 
Tuesday 22nd March 13:30 - 15:00
Panel Chair: 
  • Professor Luigi Ceccarini (University of Urbino Carlo Bo)
Panel Discussant: 
  • Dr Cristian Vaccari (Royal Holloway London)
  • Professor Giovanni Boccia Artieri (University of Urbino Carlo Bo)
Panel Members: 
  • Ms Nicole Ruskell (University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Emiliana De Blasio (Centre for Media and Democratic Innovations - LUISS University)
  • Dr Cristian Vaccari (Royal Holloway London)

Even taking into consideration all the problems that the literature has disclosed about the Internet and democracy, Web 2.0 technology still offers additional opportunities for citizens to be involved in the political community. Indeed, getting informed, discussing public affairs as well as participating in online political campaigns and protests are ‘common practices’ among modern democracies’ citizens.          

Against this background, however, there seem to be quite some important differences between Southern European countries (such as Italy), and Northern European and American democracies. In the former, citizens are usually defined as less civic and participative in public issues as compared to the latter. And yet, the “revolution” operated by the Internet on society and politics stimulates some critical questions: has “web-politics” had any effect on citizens’ engagement styles and political culture? Is the gap mentioned above narrowing in the contemporary context? Have the differences between countries changed over time? What kind of organizational frameworks characterize the various expressions of online civic and political involvement?

The aim of this panel is to shed light on these issues, discussing academic work based on:

a) case studies (drawing either on single countries or comparative analysis) looking at: online campaigns, web-based parties, civil society monitors and government watchdogs;

b) pieces of research on social media which adopt a range of research methods and techniques, e.g. big-data analysis, e-citizens opinion polls, e-activists qualitative interviews, social network website content analysis, etc.

To this end, the panel includes papers that focus on the relationship between the Internet, political participation and citizens’ involvement, and that employ multidisciplinary approaches.