Mônica Rosina, Luiz Fernando Marrey Moncau and Eduardo Alves Lazzari
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) open up new possibilities for engagement to individuals and to society as a whole. While some argue that these technologies have a strong positive impact on democracy, dramatically changing it for the better, others are less optimistic – even sceptical – about the promises ICTs can actually fulfil. This chapter takes both views into account, drawing its theoretical perspective from existing literature and analysing it in light of three concrete initiatives in Brazil that aim at improving democracy through the use of ICTs. We conclude that ICTs have, indeed, become an important instrument in terms of fostering democratic values, as they promote an open and robust public sphere that enables more debate and participatory action. However, the use of ICTs alone is just not enough to achieve concrete institutional changes, and resort to traditional means of communication and engagement (e.g. traditional TV) has been a strong feature of the cases studied.