[Air-l] democracy and culture

Charles Ess cmess at lib.drury.edu
Tue Jul 1 04:21:13 PDT 2003


I've been engaged in an interesting debate via e-mail with a colleague in
the U.K. regarding a claim in a recent article, i.e., that in addition to
well-known examples of organization via the Internet, etc., it takes
_bodies_ to bring about significant political change, as in the cases of
Yugoslavia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere.

In this context, I observed that in the U.S., the view seems to be that
politicians are far less impressed with e-mail campaigns, precisely because
they're so easy to organize, than with actual paper / postage stamped
letters.  (The current U.S. administration's ability to ignore e-mail
protests over the past year or so regarding Iraq is perhaps an extreme
My colleague responded with an example of successfully lobbying the
government in the U.K. via e-mail regarding a procedure for classroom

My response in turn - I should not be surprised that, as the Swiss say,
these things vary from canton to canton, much less from country to country.

And now, the query: has anyone done a systematic, comparative study of how
far electronic democracy initiatives have been successful among a range of
countries - especially with a view towards uncovering underlying cultural
and other factors that might explain the differences?

(I know from her very interesting presentation at AoIR 1.0 that Liza Tsaliki
has been involved in an E.U. project on electronic democracy that had to
engage with cultural differences, hence this message is copied to her.  Any
insights and results you can share, Liza?)

Thanks in advance for any advice and assistance - and in the meantime,
cheers -

Charles Ess
Distinguished Research Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Drury University
900 N. Benton Ave.                          Voice: 417-873-7230
Springfield, MO  65802  USA            FAX: 417-873-7435
Home page:  http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html
Co-chair, CATaC: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/

Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23

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