Medborgarnas röster : studier av Internet som politisk offentlighet
Sammanfattning: The Voices of the Citizens: Studies of the Internet as Political Public Sphere. The purpose of the study is to investigate the conditions for and forms of citizen participation in the websites’ communicative practices. A mainpoint is to compare websites located within separate institutional contexts, in terms of how they are designed and how they are used. Three types of websites are studied: media corporations, political parties and social movements, in connection with the Swedish parliamentary election 2002 and the election to the European parliament 2004. The dissertation involves case studies that take into account three different links of the communicative chain: production, content and interaction. The production dimension was studied with the help of qualitative interviews and observation. The content dimension – the design of websites, discourses and communicative invitations – was studied with critical multimodal discourse analysis (see e.g. Kress & van Leeuwen 2001). Finally, the interaction dimension was studied with inspiration from the theoretical and methodological perspectives of discourse and conversation analysis (see e.g. Hutchby 2001, van Dijk 1998, and Fairclough 1995). The results of the case studies of the three categories of websites shows that it is necessary that answers to the question of the Web’s importance for the public sphere be based on concrete empirical studies and an institutional perspective. The studies have shown that websites set up within the frame of media corporations and political parties strive to spread ready-made messages, and partly or entirely avoid interaction with the websites’ visitors. It is a question of activities that display and make visible, but neither open up nor include. On the political youth associations’ and one the social movements’ websites the imagined user is also constructed as a politically interested citizen who wishes to discuss politics with other (youths) in the website’s community, but also as a potential new member of the association.The dissertation emphasis the web as an important complement to the mass-media dominated public arenas and serves the needs of citizens in areas where journalism and established politics do not suffice.
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