Pundits and presidential candidates have declared the advent of ‘politics
online.’ From political discussions on Usenet to Bob Dole’s clumsy
announcement of a campaign Web site address in 1996, to the coordination of protests
via e-mail and the Web, and the data-mining efforts of elite lobbyists, digital
information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become crucial components
of contemporary politics. We will use some of the core concepts of political communication
and theories of democracy to examine the emerging role of ICTs in candidate and
issue campaigning, protest and advocacy movements, law-making and electronic governance—both
within the U.S. and internationally.
This course will be run as a workshop in which students will be required to
engage as participant-observers in a candidate and issue campaign
of their choice, as well as a policy deliberation process, then
share their critical insights on the role of ICTs in those campaigns
and processes so as to help all of us understand how specific theoretical
problems are manifested concretely. Current political sites and
Web archives from U.S. elections 2000-2006 will serve as resources
for analyses of how Internet-based ICTs have been used in the context
of recent political events.
Here are some of the questions that the course will prepare you to answer:
- How are ICTs currently being employed in democratic politics
in the U.S. and internationally?
- How are electoral, advocacy, rule-making and governance practices
changing in relation to the use of ICTs?
- How are power relations between political actors and the political
playing field shifting due to ICTs?
- What opportunities for civic engagement do current ICT practices
- In what ways do ICTs expand or diminish the power/role of the
- How might ICTs alter relationships between citizens and government?
- What are the implications of current ICTs practices for democracy?
This class will be a workshop in which the professor, students,
and guest lecturers exchange ideas about the conduct of politics
online. We will often talk about current events in class, so you
should start watching/listening for news items related to course
topics. Each class will usually start off with people sharing relevant
clippings or news stories read (New York Times, Wall
Street Journal and Economist Magazine recommended)
or heard (NPR or BBC recommended) during the week. You will earn
one extra credit point each time you bring a relevant news article,
with a one-paragraph written description of how the article relates
to one or more course themes, and summarize it briefly for the class
(maximum 3 extra credit points). Students will be responsible for
leading discussion each week. Irregular attendance will disrupt
our learning community, and absences will diminish your ability
UW Net ID & Email account
To complete some readings and assignments for this course you will need to
access UW Catalyst tools and online resources which require you
to have an active UW Net ID. Be sure you have an active UW Net ID
and password by the end of the first week of class. Additionally,
occasional course-related announcements will be posted on the course
email list; messages from this list will be sent to your UW email