Public deliberation goes on-line? An analysis of citizens' political discussions on the internet prior to the Finnish parliamentary elections in 2007

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    This article examines on-line political discussions' potential of becoming truly deliberative discussions, capable of bringing about democratic benefits, through combining two theoretically important aspects found in the literature - concerns regarding citizens' participation in on-line politics and the quality (or lack thereof) of on-line discussions - in one analytical framework. Specifically, the article firstly examines how many, and more importantly, which types of citizens participate in on-line discussions. This part of the analysis adds to the scholarly debate concerning whether on-line politics is reaching beyond politically active and interested segments of the public. Secondly, the article examines the discussions on four Finnish political discussion boards during the last three weeks before the Finnish parliamentary election in March 2007. The quality of the discussions is assessed and discussed in light of several criteria based on the literature concerning deliberative democracy. In combining these two aspects, the article fills a gap in the research field where these aspects have mostly been examined separately. The findings of the article generally demonstrate that on-line discussions are not, at least for the time being, truly deliberative. The debates analysed generally did not meet deliberative standards in terms of quality and only politically very active and interested citizens seemed to take part in them. The question thus still remains if, and how, on-line citizens' discussions can ever become truly deliberative.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)71–89
    Number of pages19
    JournalJavnost: the Public
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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