Cyber citizen or cyborg citizen: Baudrillard, political agency, and the commons in virtual politics

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 20 (2 & 3):159 – 175 (2005)
Abstract
The ethical commitment to democracy requires creating the public space for a rational discourse among real alternatives by the population. In this article, I argue that the Internet fails in this task on 2 fronts. Inspired by the work of Jean Baudrillard, the work argues that the Internet reinforces a structure of passive political agents through its 1-way form of communication. The Internet is designed to deliver political text, not engage the public in dialogue about the direction of collective decision making. Furthermore, the ideal of democratic politics relies on the notion of the "commons" as a real space for political activity, debate, and exchange. Virtual space cannot provide a substitute. Democratic politics must have as its premises real bodies, confronting real problems, in real space. The article concludes by arguing that the Internet is a place filled with political artifacts, largely without discourse and dialogue. As such, it has the potential to undermine democratic practice.
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