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Working Paper No. 09-53:
Book Review: "The Myth of Digital Democracy", by Matthew Hindman

Author(s):

Allison Hayward

Date Posted: October 2009

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Abstract (below) |

Abstract:

Matthew Hindman, a professor of political science at Arizona State University, contends in this book “that the beliefs that the Internet is democratizing politics are simply wrong.” He sets his sights on twin myths; first, that the Internet has extended political “voice” to previously voiceless precincts, and that it has facilitated deliberation among these new speakers. Instead, Hindman asserts that online politics remains “politics as usual.”

In support, he has marshaled an impressive body of empirical work. No doubt Hindman’s research is correct, search engines consolidate Web traffic, and some nontrivial number of users are generating bad search results. But to observe that “digital democracy” isn’t always and everywhere the rule is not the same thing as saying that the Internet hasn’t “democratized” politics.

Making politics easier, safer, and freer for those souls who find it worth their time can’t be anything BUT democratizing.