Public Sphere Participation Online: the Ambiguities of Affect | Peter Dahlgren | Cairn.info

Public Sphere Participation Online: the Ambiguities of Affect, Cairn.info, de Peter Dahlgren. professor Emérito da Universidade de Lund.

Debates about the internet’s contributions to the public sphere and democracy took off almost as soon as going online was becoming a mass phenomenon in the mid-1990s. Today, more than two decades later, we are certainly not close to any consensus, but most would agree that the initial celebratory crescendos have dissipated. Skeptics such as Mozorov (2011) can find plenty of evidence for not putting much hope in the internet’s potential for saving or even enhancing democracy. At the same time, others still point enthusiastically to the circumstances where online political involvement clearly plays a positive role (Castells 2012). More recently, Margetts et al (2016) take a modestly positive view, but argue that social media, while facilitating collective action via countless ‘tiny acts of participation’, are also altering the dynamics of democracy, ushering in a new ‘chaotic pluralism’, whose consequences we cannot quite envision yet. We have come to understand that there is no singular, unequivocal ‘effect’: the use and consequences of the net for political – as well as for all – purposes are always contingent upon many factors. (I use the notion of ‘internet’ or ‘net’ very broadly here to include all the digital infrastructure, platforms, social media, stationary and mobile devices of the online world).”