Three scenarios for the future of technology and strong democracy

  • Barber B
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Abstract

A theoretical discussion of the impact of communication technology on democracy. The implementation of technology must be guided by a clear deliberate vision of democracy. Sketches three scenarios regarding the role of technology in relation to democracy: 1. Panglossian - technology is left to market forces; privatizes democracies and increases polarization; cheapens culture; 2. Pandora - Even worse; IT enables the establishment of a political or economic tyranny (a la 1984); 3. Jeffersonian - a clear vision of deliberative democracy will lead to the strengthening of society by harnessing information technology to educate individuals as smart citizens and not as unthinking automatons participating in mass plebescites. Literature: 1. McChesney; 2. Fishkin; 3. Sunsteen Key Quote: "For technology remains a tool allied to particular conceptions of democracy; if we know what kind of democracy we want, it can enhance civic communication and expand citizen literacy. Left to markets...it is likely to augment McWorld's least worthy imperatives, including surveillance over manipulation of opinion, and the cultivation of artificial needs rooted in lifestyle 'choices' unconnected to real economic, civic, or spiritual needs" (588).

Author-supplied keywords

  • democracy
  • technology

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Authors

  • Benjamin R Barber

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