Deliberation or Updating? The Case of Southern Stockholm Activists Online

Svensson, Jakob
January 2012
Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Government;2012, p691
Conference Proceeding
Based on a (n)ethnographic inspired study of middle class activists in southern Stockholm, the aim is to understand contemporary political action and to discuss changing practices of participation in digital and late modernity. More specifically this paper addresses the Internet and its promise of deliberation. However instead of echoing techno-deterministic and optimist accounts of the Internet and online social networking affording a digital public sphere where deliberation can flourish, this paper argues that it is more accurate to understand the practices among the activists in southern Stockholm as updating. Updating is described here as a two-way practice, to be updated what is happening in your social networks as well as updating your social networks what is happening. These practices of updating are understood in light of late modern theories of reflexivity, identity negotiation and maintenance, practices that arguably are heightened in digital and networked societies. Hence to avoid determinism without resorting to the idea of technology as neutral, the paper is based in a techno-social dialectical understanding of our time as digital late modernity. The paper will end with a brief discussion of the implications of updating on political participation in digital late modernity. Even though not deliberation, practices of updating has consequences for participation and political action that perhaps could be considered positive and encouraging for democratic tradition in general.


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