Identity in Digital Democracy: Inequality, Participation, and Contestation
The innovation of the Internet generated hopes for horizontal modes of interaction in a digital public sphere free from domination. The empirical reality, however, proves ambiguous. On the one hand, digital publics are marked by a perpetuation and replication of old hierarchies along the lines of social identities. Digital divides, hate speech, and cyberbullying specifically address marginalised social groups like women and ethnic and sexual minorities. Moreover, government surveillance and data gathering by global corporations transform the alleged democratic public sphere into a monitored shopping mall. On the other hand, digital communication facilitates the emergence of new participatory spaces and democratic innovations. Hacktivists, cyberfeminists, and open source proponents form counter-publics contesting surveillance and data collection. Anonymity becomes a digital performance of subversion symbolised by the mask as used by global networks like Anonymous and Pussy Riot. The future of digital democracy depends on the role of online identities negotiated between governments, private enterprises, and citizens.
Marianne Franklin, Professor of Global Media & Politics, Goldsmiths
Susan Halford, Professor and Director of the Web Science Institute, University of Southampton
Paolo Gerbaudo, King’s College, Lecturer in Digital Culture and Society
Anastasia Kavada, Senior Lecturer at the School of Media, Arts, and Design, University of Westminster
Hosted by: Graham Smith, Professor of Politics, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster