In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section E-democracy/E-participation

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Origins and Early Accounts
  • Journals
  • Theoretical Models and Normative Accounts
  • Debating Effects
  • Digital Divides

Communication E-democracy/E-participation
Giles Moss, Stéphanie Wojcik
  • LAST REVIEWED: 02 July 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 November 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0107


The term “e-democracy” refers to the relationship between democracy and new media and information and communication technology (ICT). The nature of this relationship is a matter of considerable debate both empirically and normatively. Although many commentators view ICT as a democratizing force, others suggest that the democratic effects of ICT are minimal or perhaps even deleterious. Writers also disagree in normative terms about what type of democracy ICT should be used to support. Like democracy, e-democracy is a complex and contested concept, and a number of different models of e-democracy have been advocated. Reflecting these different views, e-democracy may encompass a wide range of democratic practices and is by no means limited to the formal institutions of representative government and politics. However, the term “e-democracy” is most often used to refer to activities in and around the sphere of conventional politics; this narrower definition is given primacy here. Defined as such, the field of e-democracy includes the conceptualization and empirical study of key practices such as voting, rulemaking and consultation, deliberation, political campaigning and party activities, petitioning, and information provision and open government.

General Overviews

A number of good general introductions to the field of e-democracy are available. Chadwick 2006 includes a useful introductory chapter on e-democracy and reviews a range of other relevant material. Coleman 2007 and Vedel 2006 both offer good introductions to the concept of e-democracy and to the central questions and issues addressed in the field. Chadwick and Howard 2008, a handbook on the Internet and politics, includes a number of contributions relevant to e-democracy. Wojcik 2011 provides an overview in French of recent e-democracy debates in Europe and the United States.

  • Chadwick, Andrew. 2006. Internet politics: States, citizens, and new communication technologies. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Systematic overview of the field of politics and information and communication technology (ICT) that serves as a useful introduction and good reference point. Contains a dedicated chapter on e-democracy (“Community, Deliberation and Participation: E-Democracy”) and related chapters on e-mobilization and e-campaigning.

  • Chadwick, Andrew, and Philip N. Howard, eds. 2008. Routledge handbook of Internet politics. London: Routledge.

    Collection of high-quality contributions examining the relationship between ICT and politics, organized around four main themes: institutions, behavior, identities, and law and policy. Serves as a useful introduction and companion to the field.

  • Coleman, Stephen. 2007. e-Democracy: The history and future of an idea. In The Oxford handbook of information and communication technologies. Edited by Robin Mansell, Chrisanthi Avgerou, Danny Quah, and Roger Silverstone, 362–382. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Good general introduction to the field of e-democracy. Discusses e-democracy theory and research and the contribution of ICT to key democratic practices such as information provision and public deliberation.

  • Vedel, Thierry. 2006. The idea of electronic democracy: Origins, visions and questions. Parliamentary Affairs 59.2 (April): 226–235.

    DOI: 10.1093/pa/gsl005

    Good general introduction to the field of e-democracy. The article describes the origins and competing interpretations of e-democracy and explores the key questions and issues raised by e-democracy around three main themes: information, discussion, and decision making. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Wojcik, Stéphanie. 2011. Prendre au sérieux la démocratie électronique: De quelques enjeux et controverses sur la participation politique en ligne. In Internet, machines à voter et démocratie. Edited by Elsa Forey and Christophe Geslot, 111–141. Paris: L’Harmattan.

    French overview of current debates relating to e-democracy, which covers the research contexts in Europe and the United States.

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