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  • 1.
    Lidén, Gustav
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Social Sciences.
    Inequality in local digital politics: How different preconditions for citizen engagement can be explained2016In: Policy & Internet, ISSN 1944-2866, E-ISSN 1944-2866, Vol. 8, no 3, p. 270-291Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Digital technologies have struggled to achieve more equal participation in politics, the so-called “unresolved dilemma of democracy.” Previous research has emphasized the drivers of involvement in digital politics from an individual perspective, but studies looking at the general prerequisites of online engagement in politics are lacking. Not much attention has been directed toward the supply side, namely the online presence of political actors and the structures created by them. Applying a mixed-method design, this article examines the supply of channels for digital politics distributed by Swedish municipalities. Quantitative data collected from municipality websites are used for both a description and explanation of the varying opportunities for involvement encountered by Swedish citizens as a result of where they live. Two extreme cases are then examined in depth in which preconditions for involvement are particularly weak. We find that significant variation exists between municipalities and that these patterns are explained primarily by population size, but also by economic conditions and education levels. The cases show how a lack of policies and unenthusiastic politicians creates poor possibilities for development. The findings also verify previous notions that without demand from citizens, in combination with internal ambition from politicians, successful provision of services for digital politics will be hard to achieve.

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