Cover image for Democracy in the Digital Age : challenges to political life in cyberspace
Democracy in the Digital Age : challenges to political life in cyberspace
Wilhelm, Anthony G.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, 2000.
Physical Description:
viii, 184 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1620 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JF799 .W55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



First published in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Author Notes

Anthony G. Wilhelm, Ph.D., directs the Communications Policy and Practice program at the Benton Foundation

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In a well-organized and effectively written critique, Wilhelm maintains that popular arguments in favor of exploiting the Internet as an antidote to the antiquated limitations of public input in representative democracy are premature. Online voting, the solution most prominently put forward, will at least for the near term further alienate and disenfranchise traditional minority groups. Although the vast majority of college graduates and households making over $75,000 per year are wired in, a significant majority of poorer and less educated households are without computers, much less Internet connections. Moreover, Wilhelm points out that the Internet's deserved reputation as an unregulated purveyor of unsubstantiated assertions, radical and ridiculous opinions, and biased reporting of legitimate issues tends to pervert rather than enhance the process of deliberation, respect for minority rights, and negotiation necessary to the smooth functioning of modern liberal democracy. In the end, Wilhelm fears a too hurried move to direct digital democracy will further disengage people on the political margins. He concludes that much has to be done to meet the challenges of the information age before "Internet Democracy" realizes its hoped-for potential. Recommended for collections serving general readers through graduate students and professionals. ; Berry College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
1. Cyberdemocracy's "Troubled and Frothy Surface"p. 13
Neofuturists, Dystopians, and Technorealistsp. 14
Research on the Democratic Potential of New Communications Technologiesp. 23
Beyond the Mere Smoke of Opinionp. 29
2. Shaping Virtual Civic Spacesp. 32
Antecedent Resources and the Threshold of Political Functioningp. 35
Inclusiveness in Online Public Lifep. 38
Deliberation and Light-Speed Telecommunications Technologiesp. 41
Designing a Democratic Futurep. 44
3. Resource Requirements of Digitally Mediated Political Lifep. 48
Toward a Resource Model of Telecommunications Accessp. 50
Datap. 52
Methodsp. 53
"Thick Description" of Teletechnology Access and Usep. 54
Noneconomic Barriersp. 58
The Causal Priority of Family and Educationp. 65
4. Immune to Progress: Reconceptualizing America's Information and Telecommunications Underclassp. 67
A Tale of Two Citiesp. 68
Expanding the Definition of Information Poverty: A Periphery-Center Modelp. 73
Data and Methodsp. 76
A New Classification of Information and Technology Povertyp. 77
5. Virtual Sounding Boards: How Deliberative is Online Political Discussion?p. 86
Exploratory Questionsp. 87
Why Content Analysis?p. 90
Content Categoriesp. 93
The Vast Cyberwasteland?p. 97
Irrigating the Wastelandp. 102
6. Designer Democracyp. 105
Becoming Digital: The Prospects for Home-Based Cyberdemocracyp. 106
Bypassing Poor Neighborhoods, Communities of Color, and Rural Americap. 113
Public-Access Workstations and Community Buildingp. 116
Opening the Space of Flowsp. 121
7. Catching the Red Queen: Public-Policy Renovationsp. 123
The Difference Principlep. 125
Toward Ubiquitous Deployment of Advanced Servicesp. 132
Enhancing Deliberation in Online Political Forumsp. 138
Political Multicasting: An Enduring Public Trusteeshipp. 143
Conclusion: Media Campaigns and the New Internationalp. 149
Appendix A1 Logistic Regression Analysis of Home Computer Ownershipp. 159
Appendix A2 Logistic Regression Analysis of Home Modem Ownershipp. 160
Appendix A3 Logistic Regression Analysis of Digitally Mediated Political Engagementp. 161
Appendix B List of (Self-Identified) Political Usenet and AOL Forumsp. 162
Referencesp. 163
Indexp. 177