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From Code to Discourse: Social Media and Linkage Mechanisms in Deliberative Systems

The 37-page article, From Code to Discourse: Social Media and Linkage Mechanisms in Deliberative Systems (2017), was written by Benjamin A. Lyons, and published in the Journal of Public Deliberation: Vol. 13: Iss. 1. In the article, he explores about how deliberative democracy functions on social media and examines the ways that these platforms facilitate discourse. Read an excerpt of the article below and find the PDF available for download on the Journal of Public Deliberation site here.

From the introduction…

Online deliberation has largely been evaluated by face-to-face standards, drawing on Habermas (1984, 1990, 1996). Some researchers (e.g., Coleman & Moss, 2012; Dahlberg, 2001; Dahlgren, 2005; Freelon, 2010; Graham, 2015; Zimmermann, 2015) have critiqued and looked beyond this approach. Instead, expanded views of deliberation have been employed (Conover & Searing, 2005; Mansbridge, 1999; Young, 2006). Implicitly, this approach is informed by a systemic view of deliberation (Mansbridge et al., 2012): Not every discussion space needs to meet every criterion, but the spaces must be linked. Unfortunately, these studies do not explicitly examine how forums might connect. Digital media studies meanwhile look at actual objects of connection as it occurs online, such as through hyperlinks, follower networks, semantic tags, and memes. By integrating these bodies of research, scholars can better evaluate deliberative functions in digital communication environments. At the same time, scholars of digital media can better frame the contribution the objects of their study make to the broader political system.

This article lays the necessary groundwork for studying social media-enabled linkage mechanisms in deliberative systems. In the first section, I overview the central tenets of deliberation, how it has been evaluated in online contexts, and recent expansions of definitions that coincide with the system or network view of deliberative democracy. The next section discusses the core concept of linkage within that view, with emphasis on mediated links. The potential for social media to serve as a “macro” link between spheres is explored before focusing on actual connections within and among deliberative exchanges on these platforms. Following an overview of digital media objects’ technical and discursive means of connection, potential for future research is outlined.

Download the full article from the Journal of Public Deliberation here.

About the Journal of Public DeliberationJournal of Public Deliberation
Spearheaded by the Deliberative Democracy Consortium in collaboration with the International Association of Public Participation, the principal objective of Journal of Public Deliberation (JPD) is to synthesize the research, opinion, projects, experiments and experiences of academics and practitioners in the emerging multi-disciplinary field and political movement called by some “deliberative democracy.” By doing this, we hope to help improve future research endeavors in this field and aid in the transformation of modern representative democracy into a more citizen friendly form.

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Resource Link: www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol13/iss1/art4/

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