Discussing Public Policy Online The case of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda Assembly 2012 online platform
This thesis aims at looking into whether democratic processes and deliberative policy discussion can take place online. In addition by using a grounded theory approach this thesis aims at expanding the current theories on how online public policy discussions work. As fears have been raised over decreasing citizen participation in political processes - which then again can cause problems of accountability and legitimacy - there have been attempts to find new and more eliberative ways to engage the citizens in the democratic decision making. This need for new places of policy discussion accompanied with the huge leaps in information and communications technologies have also resulted in attempts to bring policy iscussions online. This thesis analyses the case of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda online engagement platform and how one of the ten discussion groups on the platform facilitated public policy deliberation. The methodological approach in this study is grounded theory and the tool used for the analysis is qualitative content analysis. The results of this thesis firstly give inputs regarding how policy discussions take place online and secondly raises some concerns over the actual deliberativeness of the online discussion on the platform. These results however should not be seen as diminishing the power of Internet as atool for crowdsourcing the public opinion, in which the case of this study succeeded very well. In the light of this case, the online public policy discussions could therefore act as an additional tool in democratic processes.