Internet accessibility and the ambivalence of transparency

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Published Mar 1, 2018
Jörg Dürrschmidt


As far as digital communication technologies are concerned, it is commonly assumed that social diffusion levels are high. This means that in terms of social uptake of these technologies generation gap, gender differential and social difference are growing smaller. However, in terms of adaptation and usage social milieus are still important. The first part of the paper shall discuss this general claim with regard to internet accessibility and political/governmental transparency. On the one hand, it has been argued that the internet simply is ‘transparency’. It provides disclosure, information, puts elite behaviour out in the open, and potentially allows everyone to know almost everything about anything. On the other hand, people tend to filter abundant information through their habitus, and the capacity to turn facts to information and eventually in political opinion, tends to vary across social milieu. Seen from this perspective internet accessibility will not automatically improve transparency. Much rather the latter remains tied to the social distribution of social and normative knowledge. Thus while there might be a link between good governance and information availability to the public, government transparency that aims at inviting the public to participate via the net needs a better understanding of the social embeddedness of ‘voice’. Moreover, the ubiquitous norm of virtual transparency as an impulse for more democracy might actually disguise the quest for true representativity in contemporary society, as the second more analytic part of the paper attempts to argue.

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Dürrschmidt, Jörg. 2018. “Internet Accessibility and the Ambivalence of Transparency”. Central and Eastern European EDem and EGov Days 325 (March):331-43.


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