Edited by H. K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe
This chapter presents a theoretically informed overview of empirical insights in both unsolicited and solicited forms of online citizen involvement in policy processes, including protest politics, social media monitoring, crowdsourcing and online deliberation. Social media uses positively affect the opportunity structure for citizen involvement, especially in the puzzling dimension and in the input phase of policy processes. In later phases, and in the powering dimension, institutional factors bearing on the traditional patterns of involvement of proximate policymakers tend to reduce these effects. Our analysis reveals at least three mechanisms mediating, mitigating and working against the democratic potential of social media: (1) the ‘clash’ between technological capabilities and institutional forces, (2) the ‘double-edged sword’ character of social media, the capabilities of which can also be used by the decisionmakers, and (3) the importance of the landscape of media organizations for the effectiveness of social media uses by citizens.
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