Digital Democracy in a Globalized World
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Digital Democracy in a Globalized World

Edited by Corien Prins, Colette Cuijpers, Peter L. Lindseth and Mônica Rosina

Whether within or beyond the confines of the state, digitalization continues to transform politics, society and democracy. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have already considerably affected political systems and structures, and no doubt they will continue to do so in the future. Adopting an international and comparative perspective, Digital Democracy in a Globalized World examines the impact of digitialization on democratic political life. It offers theoretical analyses as well as case studies to help readers appreciate the changing nature of democracy in the digital age.
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Chapter 13: Digital democracy in Belgium and the Netherlands. A socio-legal analysis of technologies, embedding and expectations of two fourth wave innovations

Koen van Aeken

Abstract

The question is how technologies characterized by ubiquitous networked computing and Web 2.0 interactivity may contribute to democracy. Following a case study design, two applications were evaluated: the Belgian CitizenLab, a mobile, social and local private application to support public decision making in cities, and the Dutch governmental website Internetconsultatie.nl. Available data suggest that the Dutch consultation platform is mainly visited by the ‘usual suspects’ and lacks participatory functionalities. In contrast, CitizenLab explicitly aims at policy co-creation through broad participation. Its novelty, however, prevents the making of sound empirical statements. A comprehensive conceptualization precedes the case studies. To avoid instrumentalist reduction, the social setting of the technologies is reconstructed. Since its constituents, embedding and expectations – initially represented as the nation state and representative democracy – are increasingly challenged, their transformations are consequently discussed. The new embedding emerges as a governance constellation; new expectations concern the participatory dimension of politics. Future assessments of technologies may benefit from this conceptualization.

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