DIGSSCORE Tuesday seminar

Trajche Panov: Digital Inequality and Democratic Representation: Voters and Representatives in the Age of Internet

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Welcome to the final DIGSSCORE lunch seminar for spring 2019.

Trajche Panov, Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Comparative Politics, UiB, will present today.  


Digital Inequality and Democratic Representation: Voters and Representatives in the Age of Internet analyses how digital inequality affects democratic representation. It develops and critically discusses novel theoretical perspectives on the role of the Internet in political processes. I argue that that the representative democracy in age of Internet is constrained by the significant digital inequalities among both voters and elected representatives. For the first time, this book does not focus uniquely on voters and political candidates, but provides also a novel empirical analysis of digital inequalities among elected representatives and of the effects of the Internet on political accountability. This book argues that the Internet does not help the voters to hold their representatives accountable because representatives remain lowly motivated for interaction with citizens. At the same time, the internet does not prevent both voters and elected representatives to systematically and automatically exclude disliked sources, individuals and topics. All individuals with better socio-economic status and personal skills, no matter whether they are voters or representatives, are more likely to derive benefits from the Internet than individuals and social groups with lower skills. Thus, the internet can contribute to holding political representatives accountable only to a certain extent.

By means of an innovative methodological approach and original data collection that combines survey experiments, my study demonstrates that digital inequalities are deeply imbedded in pre-existing social stratifications and that the online political participation of both voters and elected representatives reflects these inequalities. The internet generates the perception of a decrease in political accountability, although it provides more powerful and pervasive communication channels.

Lunch is served at first come, first served basis.