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Political parties, democracy and the new information and communication technologies: theorising the relationships

L�fgren, Karl; Smith, Colin F


Karl L�fgren


As a result of the increased public penetration of the Internet and other forms of electronic networks in western liberal democracies there has, for some years now, been a growing academian interest in technologically mediated practices within politics and policy-processes. This interest has been mainly coupled to arrangements embedded in a participatory conception of democracy, whereas classical political intermediators, such as political parties, have been disregarded within research. This article discusses the theoretical triangle between parties, democracy and modern communication technologies, taking, as the point of departure, four ideal ‘strategies’ for parties’ uptake and maintenance of new technology based in both new understandings of the relationship between democracy and modern communication technology, and classical models of parties and party organisations. This theoretical framework argues that the relationship between the three entities is more complex and dispersed than the simple dichotomy between representative and participatory traditions of democracy suggests. And moreover, it argues that the technology per se plays a limited role in most actual cases of political parties.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 1999
Deposit Date Dec 9, 2009
Print ISSN 1461-4162
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Information and communication technologies (ICTs); political parties; democracy; strategy; logics of appropriateness; Mass Party, Cadre Party, Electronic democracy
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