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Digital democracy and Surveillance Society: Considerations about the new panopticon

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Author(s): Hélder Prior

Journal: Estudos em Comunicação
ISSN 1646-4974

Volume: 10;
Start page: 373;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: “mass self communication” | citizenship | electronic surveillance

ABSTRACT
Nowadays, it is not possible to discuss questions about citizenship and communication policy without mentioning the technological structures that enhance the public debate. Through this way of thinking, it is important to include the Internet in the set of stages which contribute to give the public sphere a higher coverage. In the current model of network communication, citizens are no longer only spectators in the arenas of public discussion, but active participants in a process that disrupts the traditional paradigm broadcast (media) – receiver (hearing). In the period of communication for the masses, the public sphere was controlled by agents of the media system who conditionated the subjects of public discussion, due to a rigorous selection over what should reach the public and what the public should retain. However, something profound has changed the relationships between politics, citizenship and communication. In the recent model of «mass-self-communication», the citizens no longer «have to ask permission» to «gatekeepers» to have direct access to the debate and to the decisions around common causes. Indeed, in cyberspace hierarchies vanish in favor of a decentralized and open communication. But, there’s always a price to pay. Ironically, the technologies that increase the citizenship are the same which intensify the electronic eye and the panopticon surveillance society.
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