Chapter 4: The Fifth Estate: a rising force of pluralistic accountability
This chapter provides a fresh perspective on the role of the Internet in politics, enabling the most realistic potential for enhancing democratic governance in the digital age. Researchers who are focused on digital politics and democracy are most often addressing the Internet as a tool for supporting traditional democratic institutions, such as consultation, and political campaigns. However, the Internet is enabling networked individuals to develop a new form of social and political accountability – the Fifth Estate – comparable to the Fourth Estate of an earlier era. The chapter defines the Fifth Estate, its foundations in the behaviour of networked individuals, and its future in the face of challenges from the other estates of the Internet realm.
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