E-democracy remixed: Learning from the BBC's Action Network and the shift from a static commons to a participatory multiplex
Keywords:BBC, democracy, eParticipation, Internet, public service broadcasting
AbstractThis paper examines a five-year initiative by the UK's public service broadcaster, the BBC, to reinvigorate civic engagement at a time of declining public participation in politics. The Action Network project, originally called iCan, ran from 2003 to 2008 and was one of the most high profile and ambitious attempts by a public service broadcaster to foster eParticipation through an online civic commons. This study analyzes Action Network within the context of conceptualizations of the Internet as a networked, distributed and participatory environment and the shift towards what scholars describe as a networked public sphere. It suggests that the project did not have the impact anticipated as it was borne out of a paternalistic broadcast legacy, out of step with the trend towards distributed and collaborative discourse online that reassesses the notion that the public is simply a resource to be managed. This paper argues that the BBC experience provides lessons in how the media, and specifically public service broadcasters, can contribute towards greater political participation and democratic dialogue through the Internet by adopting Web 2.0 approaches that enable citizens to engage on different levels and at different times, depending on contexts.
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JeDEM is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal (ISSN: 2075-9517). All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Austria (CC BY 3.0) License.