Digital Threats to Democracy - Studies in Digital Politics and Digitalization Policy-Making

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandling


This article-based PhD thesis examines in three articles potential threats to democracy posed or amplified by digitalization. Article 1 addresses digital misinformation as a democratic problem related to post-factual democracy. Post-factuality is related to both the novel digital media environment and political populism. The article shows how misinformation may undermine democratic legitimacy relative to a deliberative notion of democracy, and it shows how certain forms of misinformation concerning the election procedures and results may threaten democracy according to a minimalist notion. An ideal
of factual democracy is presented, in which a division of labor between citizens and experts is to ensure that the citizens hold the political authority, and experts hold the epistemic authority such that political equality is in place, while societal problems are addressed on basis of evidence. Article 2 examines further the novel informational environment and the transformations of the attention economy that digitalization has entailed for political communication. The baseline is George Franck’s theory about the attention economy, according to which the media play the part of the financial sector. However, it is pointed out
that Franck’s analysis has a blind spot pertaining to the extent to which data and the emergence of digital platforms have influenced the attention economy and amplified the affordances for producing and diffusing news content according to consumer demand, including misleading and distracting content. It suggests and defines different types of speculative bubbles of attention, including political bubbles, and points out that the bubbles have changed with the digital transformation. Article 3 turns to digitalization policy making and examines empirically whether and to what extent democratically problematic assumptions about the digital development as an inevitable and accelerating development,
to which democracies need to adapt, are to be identified in recent Danish policy papers concerning digitalization. A shift is found mid-2018, where assumptions about technological acceleration and inevitability are supplanted by aims of influencing the development according to “Danish” values. Finally, the article discusses whether such aims are realistic in light of technological determinism, constructivism and a theory of sociotechnical selectionism.
ForlagKøbenhavns Universitet
Antal sider219
StatusUdgivet - 25 feb. 2022
Udgivet eksterntJa

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