A model of how local issues are debated

Happy New Year! I thought I’d kick off 2010 by sharing this diagram I found on Steven Clift’s e-democracy.org blog (click on the image to go to Steven’s article):

I think it gives a great overview of the interaction between citizens, groups, media and elected representatives.

I wonder if it could be adapted to highlight the reflexive/learning aspects in this process? Each local issue would include ‘echos’ of previous debates, which would shape and change media coverage too …you can see an old attempt by me at capturing that side of the process in an old blog post here – click on the thumbnail to get a readable PDF.

Although it’s aimed at local forum-based discussions hosted by e-democracy.org, it’s pretty obvious that this model also fits nicely with how petitions fit into political processes: if there is a difference, I’d guess it’s that petitions can empower the citizens and elected representatives in relation to media and officialdom by providing a (ideally formal, legislated) mechanism to support change.

Apologies for general lack of posting by the way: work commitments keep happening…

Update 10 January

Over at the Local Democracy blog, Paul Evans has picked up on this diagramme and come up with an excellent series of questions critiquing the assumptions behind the diagram, and the context that’s missing. Have a read!

To be fair on Steve Dale though, it should be pointed out that I ripped the diagramme out of context – he was representing how e-democracy.org’s forums work: it’s a kind of picture of the ‘hard’ system – with the context (the ‘soft’ system) left implicit.

I think many of Paul’s points are (IMO valid) questions relating to the purpose and effectiveness of online forums as a tool for deliberation – points that the diagramme couldn’t be expected to address I don’t think.

Still, his points have given me something to think about when discussing the context and processes around e-petitions and their roles in local debates…

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About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
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4 Responses to A model of how local issues are debated

  1. Paul Evans says:

    Ta for the link!

    Looking back on my post, I can see that there is an implied criticism that could be seen as unfair.

    I wasn’t saying that ‘this diagram is bad’ – I was instead saying ‘if I drew a diagram illustrating the interesting questions, it would have these things on it’.

  2. Thanks – thought it was worth making clear. I do like the questions you raise though – don’t get me wrong 🙂

  3. Pingback: PEP-NET » Blog Archive » eParticipation News digest 1st – 21st January 2010

  4. Pingback: What's missing from this picture? | Local Democracy

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