Virtual Representation: Politicians and the Public in the Internet Age
Steve Ward of the Oxford Internet Institute
In the context of claims about a crisis of representative democracy and a breakdown in trust between elected representatives and the electorate, there has been increasing amount of interest in the capacity of the Internet to revive political representation and citizen engagement. The aim of the talk is to assess, the impact of ICTs on parliamentary representation drawing specifically on evidence from the UK and Australia. In particular we’ll examine how far, and to what purpose, are new ICTs being used by parliaments and political representatives; the extent to which public uses, or has an interest in new ICTs for communicating with representatives and representative institutions; and the drivers, barriers and challenges to ICT usage in the representative context.
Stephen Ward is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the European Studies Research Institute, University of Salford UK. He is also currently Visiting Academic Fellow at the Hansard Society, London. His research interests focus on e-democracy and, in particular, political campaigning, elections, parties and political participation online in Europe and Australia. His most recent publications include: Making a Difference: A comparative view of the role of the Internet in election politics [Rowman Littlefield (Lexington Books), 2008] co-edited with Richard Davis, Diana Owen and David Taras and “E-Politics: the Australian experience”, a special issue of the Australian Journal Political Science, 43 (1), 2008, co-edited with Rachel Gibson.