Deliberation, Competition, or Practice? The Online Debate as an Arena for Political Participation
Several studies have found that political online debates do not to live up to deliberative standards of discussion. Even so, these debates may have democratic value. In the present article, the analytic focus is extended from deliberative democratic theory alone to a broader framework of analysis, which also includes a competitive and a participatory democratic ideal. An analytical framework for identifying democratic elements in online debates, based on these three ideals, is developed, and a sample of postings from two Norwegian newspaper-hosted online forums is explored using this new analytical framework. The analysis shows that the online debates are not particularly deliberative, but that they show ample traces of a participatory and a competitive democratic ideal, indicating that the democratic value of these online forums does not primarily lie in fostering deliberation, but rather in clarifying and contrasting different alternatives, and in providing a training ground for political debates.
Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordicom
Nordicom Review 34 (2013) 1, pp. 3-15