The Internet: managed technology = managed democracy

Horrocks, Ivan (2006). The Internet: managed technology = managed democracy. In: The Internet: Power and Governance in a Digitised World, 6 Dec 2006, Oxford, UK.



Drawing initially on previous work by the author and associates which examined a range of models of democracy which seem to be shaped and/or reshaped through the use of new ICT (Hoff, Horrocks, and Tops 2000) this paper argues that the proposition/belief in the transformative powers of the Internet for democracy and power relations has always been flawed. The paper then goes on to explore the reasons for this. It will be argued, for example, that a combination of the technological determinism that dominates much of the theory and practice of technological development and the emergence of the social construction of technology perspective that became increasingly influential through the 1990s distorted a comprehensive analysis of the developmental trajectory of the Internet. In addition the political, economic and security establishments largely misunderstood the Internet and were slow to adapt. Overall, however, the central argument will be that if the Internet is analysed as a technological innovation, and thus as a property of the social and structural forms, structures, systems and institutions that predate it, rather than some kind of separate social system (i.e. cyberspace) then its potential for actual social/democratic transformation can be better understood.

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