28 - 31 August 2013
Torino, Italy

RS05 – Digital Citizenship

Sónia Pedro Sebastião ssebastiao@iscsp.utl.pt ISCSP-CAPP Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal

The influence and potential of ICT for political participation have been debated since the 1970s. When the internet studies started to map the contributions of internet to democracy, the perspectives were optimistic. Authors like Rheingold (1995) and Rash (1997) believed that internet would supply to renew the interest of citizens in democracy, thanks to their empowerment and increased proximity with political decision-makers. The new medium would permit the creation of new spaces for debate, pressure and influence in the political policies process and communication, since it would have no centre and no gatekeepers. Nevertheless, and with the growing number of research that related internet and democracy, scholars started to realize that the range of influence of internet to improve the democratic debate and to gather citizens and politicians is limited (Hague & Loader, 1999; Coleman, 1999; Wilhelm, 2000; Dahlgren, 2001 and 2009; Norris, 2001; Carpini & Keeter, 2002; Howard & Jones, 2004; Shane, 2004; Chadwick, 2006, 2009; Hindman, 2008) and somehow dangerous (Wilhelm, 2000; Hindman 2008).

This research stream aims to identify some of these limitations and perils, and also to shed some light into the ‘what’ is digital citizenship: a new citizenship or merely a new form of civic expression.

The Internet has been used in political communication for the dissemination of ideas and programs of the institutions and political actors, as well as in an attempt to promote new civic practices and approach citizens involved in political life. The relation between Politics and the Internet has set the e-democracy concept. If previous studies have shown the Internet’s importance in promoting and supporting the expression of new civic practices, such as protest movements, public petitions, solidarity campaigns, among others (Norris, 1999 and 2002, Bennett and Entman, 2001), research has found that the participation of citizens in the same is not homogeneous, ranging from the indifferent, the informed, the merely likers, the creators and participants (Shirky, 2009). Also the attitudes and behaviors of citizens have differences. We recognize the importance of the Internet in providing information about the country’s political life, but the consumption of this information is a different matter.

This Research Stream aims to present and discuss scholar contributions to the understanding and characterization of Digital Citizenship, seeking for variety in what concerns methodological approaches, target groups and cultural realities.

We welcome abstracts with clear presentation of the theme, purpose, methods and techniques, short research process description, preliminary results and main references.


  • 01RS05 Digital Citizenship
    Chair: Dimitris Tsapogas, MSc <dimitrios.tsapogas@univie.ac.at> Research Assistant and PhD Candidate Department of Communication University of Vienna A-1090 Vienna, Währinger Straße 29 T +43-1-4277-493 96
  • 02RS05 Digital Citizenship 2
    Sónia Sebastião <ssebastiao@iscsp.utl.pt> School of Social and Political Sciences, Center of Administration and Public Policies, Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal) Co-Chair Sandra Balão <sbalao@iscsp.utl.pt> School of Social and Political Sciences, Center of Administration and Public Policies, Technical University of Lisbon (Portugal)

Thank you very much to all participants for making esa torino an outstanding conference.