Colloquia #9: Virtual Democracy

, Piran, Slovenia

Call for papers

For its 1993 Colloquium, Euricom is returning to its central theme of the relationship between the media and democracy. In the decade since we began holding these meetings, there have been major technological advances in communication which potentially have very important implications for the relationship between citizens and their governments.

In this colloquium we want to look at the ways in which the new interactive technologies which are becoming widely available affect the role of the citizen. There is an optimistic account of the future in which the potential of these technologies empowers the citizens and enhances democracy. There is a pessimistic account which sees the main potential of the new technology in its power to increase the level of surveillance over individuals which can be exercised by governments and large corporations. Whichever version of the future is accurate, the introduction of these technologies will alter the balance of the ‘old’ mass media like the press and broadcasting, which have traditionally played a central role in theories of democracy. It will challenge the distinctions between the private and the public spheres and perhaps alter the terrain and terms of political life. It will change the economics of information and entertainment delivery in ways which may affect public access to the materials usually thought essential for participation in democratic political life. In short, it poses a major challenge to our accepted thinking.

The organisers wish to invite papers which address any of these questions, from any perspective. We are equally keen to consider theoretical reflections and detailed empirical case studies.