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Digital Technologies and Democracy: A Minimalist, Practice-oriented Institutional Approach

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Much of the discussion around the relationship between digital information and communication technologies and democracy has focused too little on the question of what connections exists between digital technologies and actually existing, minimalist-vision democracy, and too much on extensive discussion of the possible connections that might potentially be established between digital technologies and alternative, maximalist visions for democracy. In my view, this is a problem in two ways. First, emphasis on alternatives at the expense of the actual limits our understanding of the world we live in. Second, abstract discussions of what digital might do for democracy seems to sometimes be allowed to serve as a stand-in for what it does do in and for democracy, in turn distorting and exaggerating its role. The basic point here is we need to find a different starting point if we wish to understand the relationship between digital technology and democracy.

About the Speaker

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen is Director of Research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics. He has [been] author/editor of five books on various aspects of political communication, journalism, and news media, including the award-winning “Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns”, and has published widely in both academic and general interest publications.

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