Working Together for a Stronger Digital Society

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Netgain Challenge

From Sandy Schumann
The Internet has been hailed as a liberation technology that would enable underrepresented citizens to have their voice heard by participating in digital political or civic actions. However, despite increasing Internet penetration and Internet usage, civic and political engagement on the Internet is still strongly determined by citizens’ (high) socio economic status. Societal power dynamics are reproduced online and social exclusion as well as inequality are further perpetuated. Hence, the question remains as to how citizens who are already using the Internet can be encouraged to harness its participatory potential, to join the public sphere. In other words, how can the Internet advance social inclusion through digital citizen engagement? Is a focus on Internet governance or design the right approach? Or do we rather need to step offline to encourage more people to act online, promoting community programs that raise awareness for and lower the thresholds to engage in digital civic and political activities.
democratic participation, inequality, civil society
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