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Political debate on weblogs: a virtual public sphere for deliberation?

Author(s): Gil Baptista Ferreira

Journal: Estudos em Comunicação
ISSN 1646-4974

Volume: 10;
Start page: 223;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: blogging | internet | deliberative democracy | information society | public sphere

Taking as reference the deliberative democracy model, my aim is to assess the democratic potential of online discursive spaces to 1) characterize the communication observed within them and 2) critically evaluate that potential and ask whether or not blogging is consistent with the main theoretical norms of deliberative democracy. The main question asked is whether these electronic debates stimulate deliberation within the public sphere, through non-coercive communication, freedom of expression, an unrestricted agenda. I argue that while it has the potential to be a valuable practice that can expand the opportunities for citizens to engage politically, so far this initial promise remains unfulfilled. Considering the different types of uses that individuals make of these spaces, it seems that the political communication exchange on weblogs do not meet the ideal requirements of the public sphere, and blogging fails to satisfy several important criterion of deliberative democracy. I conclude suggesting explanations for online political apathy and lack of deliberative debate.
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