New Technologies and the Modernization of Local Government: an Analysis of Biases and Constraints
ABSTRACT In emerging structures of local governance the institutions of elected local government have the potential to fulfil three complementary roles: those of local democracy, public policy making and direct service delivery. Although ICTs (information and communication technologies) could effectively develop all three roles there is a systemic bias which favours service delivery applications and ignores others. This bias can be explained by reference to a network of actors who determine ICT policy in relative isolation from the other policy networks active at the local level. The ways in which this bias is perpetuated are explored through a case study of ICT policy making in UK local government. The implications of the systemic bias for the long-term future of local government, and indeed public administration, are both severe and profound. They suggest an over-emphasis upon performance measurement, a decline in democratic activity and a diminishing capacity among elected bodies to effect broad public policy initiatives.
SourceAvailable from: Shefali VirkarUser-Centric Technology Design for Non-Profit and Civic Engagements, Edited by Saqib Saeed, 04/2014: chapter 9: pages 137-175; Springer Cham Heidelberg New York Dordrecht London.
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ABSTRACT: Local government in England has, in general, struggled with exploiting the much heralded democratic potential of the Internet. Evaluations of the local e-democracy initiatives, funded as part of the New Labour Government's e-government programme, were largely unfavourable. Since this initiative ended usage of the Internet has arguably reached a critical mass opening new opportunities for local policy makers interested in more effectively involving citizens in the local decision-making process. This article illustrates these opportunities by drawing on new empirical evidence of the online political activity associated with the 2008 Manchester Congestion Charge referendum. It also serves to highlight the political challenges facing local government and argues that if the Internet is to be used for strengthening local democracy then local government must become a fit for purpose institution and develop strategies that tackle the online influence of vested economic interests and the problem of enacting local citizenship online.Local Government Studies 01/2014; 40(1). DOI:10.1080/03003930.2013.829457 · 0.43 Impact Factor