Offentlighetens nya rum teknik och politik i Sverige 1969-1999
Sammanfattning: This study in contemporary history describes the transformation of the public sphere in Sweden during the period 1969-1999, and analyses the role of information technology and politics in the process. The overall aim of the study is to explain how, and why, the public sphere in Jürgen Habermas sense has deteriorated during a period of rapid technological and political change, when increasing attention has been given to information technology as a new tool for improving democracy and empowering citizens.Theoretical inspiration is drawn from two perspectives within the modern history of technology and sociology of technology; the LTS (Large Technical Systems) and STS (Science, Technology and Society) approaches, as well as from the regime theory concept within political science. This multidisciplinary framework provides the theoretical basis for the study, including terms as socio-technical systems, system builder, technification, interpretative flexibility, stabilization, closing and regime change. In addition, the analysis draws upon previous research in economic history, where focus often has been on the important role of institutions. The term path dependence is central in this tradition.The starting point for the study is the process of a mutual legitimization between citizens and political actors that traditionally has taken place within the public sphere. In return for citizens support and trust, political actors have granted format rights to the public space. Two aspects of this interdependence are addressed: Freedom of speech and citizen’s access to public information, and their access to arenas where an exchange of political ideas and opinions is taking place. In the study, the former is a question of the legal system and the limits to freedom of speech in new medias such as the Internet, while the latter concerns citizen’s technical means and possibilities to connect to electronic networks.Research interest is concentrated on the formal political system, focusing both actors and structural factors such as technological development, media convergence, ideological change and international integration in the transformation process. Four case studies of institutional changes during formative moments, within what is defined as the legal and the technical infrastructures, are conducted and represent the empirical base of the thesis. The case studies are centered on Swedish governmental commissions, on the government itself and on proceedings in the parliament, and concerns formation and transformation of computer law, as well as the deregulation and privatization of the technical infrastructure.In the latter process Televerket (Swedish Telecom) has been an influential promoter of competition and institutional separation between tele- and data communications, representing a major regime change in favour of market relations in the technical infrastructure. In the area of computer law, the Swedish regime dominated by SCB (Statistics Sweden) was incorporated into a joint European data protection regime, resulting in limitations of freedom of speech on the Internet. These regime changes have also transformed the role of the state, constituting a “net watchers state”.Another important finding is that promotion of democracy and improvement of access to the public sphere, never was on the agenda in the political transformation processes studied, although a parallel discourse on democracy and information technology existed throughout the period studied.
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