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Motivating eParticipation in Authoritarian Countries
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can enrich the ways in which citizens participate in civic and political matters. Indeed, many theorists on online participation, or eParticipation, proclaim the potential of digital technologies to empower citizens with convenient ways to participate in democratic processes and to hold leaders to account. However, it is not clear if and how digital technologies, notably social media, can contribute to a more democratic system and engaged public in a country where open expression is limited. This thesis studies Social Networking Sites (SNS) as Information Systems (IS) artefacts, including individuals’ motivation for using them, how their features enable participation - or not - and the impacts of their use in an authoritarian country.

Through personal interviews and focus group discussions in Uganda, this thesis finds that the common enablers of online participation in often-studied, mostly Western democratic countries are rarely translated into the offline world in an authoritarian country with one president for the last 30 years. The thesis proposes ways to increase eParticipation in authoritarian contexts, citing the social accountability sector (where the thesis shows evidence of eParticipation working) as a pathway to greater citizen participation and government responsiveness. Findings also contribute to the Information Systems artefact discourse by illuminating the political, social, technological, and information artefacts in SNS when used for eParticipation. Moreover, the thesis shows how, in contexts with a democracy deficit, resource-based theories such as the Civic Voluntarism Model (CVM) fall short in explaining what motivates political participation. It also explains how social networks contain the various constitutive aspects of the IS artefact – social, technical, informational and political - and how these various aspects need to be aligned for eParticipation to work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university , 2016. , 143 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Informatics, 11
Keyword [en]
Civic voluntarism, IS artefact, Uganda, eParticipation, citizen participation, social networking sites, authoritarian regime, ICT4D
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-48179ISBN: 978-91-7529-136-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-48179DiVA: diva2:902111
Public defence
2016-04-28, Hörsalen, Musikhögskolan, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-02-10 Created: 2016-02-10 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Citizens’ use of new media in authoritarian regimes: A case study of Uganda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Citizens’ use of new media in authoritarian regimes: A case study of Uganda
2015 (English)In: Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, ISSN 1681-4835, E-ISSN 1681-4835, Vol. 67, no 1, 1-23 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

By subsidizing the costs of civic participation, the use of the Internet is believed to stimulate participation but there are fears that intensive Internet use causes withdrawal from public life. This paper investigates the connection between the way individuals participate online and offline in authoritarian, low-income regimes, and the nature of eParticipation among citizens in authoritarian regimes such as Uganda. Based on personal interviews with 116 Internet users, the study found that common drivers of eParticipation, such as low cost, security and anonymity are hard to transplant into the offline world for citizens of authoritarian states such as Uganda. Perceived risks of retribution and intimidation for expressing a particular opinion or supporting a political cause mean that citizen-to-citizen participation is the predominant form but still at low levels, while citizen-to-government participation is negligible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Hong Kong, China: City University of Hong Kong Press, 2015
Keyword
eParticipation, offline participation, online participation, engagement, authoritarian regimes
National Category
Social Sciences Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Informatics; Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-44453 (URN)2-s2.0-84924589261 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2015-04-24 Created: 2015-04-24 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. When SNS use Doesn’t Trigger e-Participation: Case Study of an African Authoritarian Regime
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When SNS use Doesn’t Trigger e-Participation: Case Study of an African Authoritarian Regime
2015 (English)In: International Journal of E-Politics, ISSN 1947-9131, E-ISSN 1947-914X, Vol. 6, no 2, 14-29 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Numerous scholars have concluded that there is a correlation between use of social network sites (SNS), particularlyfor news and information acquisition or community building, and the likelihood for e-Participation.This paper examines how the use of Facebook affects the participative behaviours of individuals active in political and interest organizations and those not active in organized politics. Through focus group discussions involving 56 Ugandans, we conclude that in low internet use, authoritarian contexts, the Civic Voluntarism Model and the benefits Facebook brings to participation in Western democracies are turned on their head. Besides overwhelming detachment from politics, even for politically-inclined citizens, low belief in citizens’ online actions influencing change and fear of reprisals for criticizing an authoritarian president in power for 29 years, severely dulled the appetite for e-Participation. This high cost of participation means Facebook is growing citizens’ civic skills but it is hardly increasing online participation even for politically interested citizens.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Pennsylvania, USA: IGI Global, 2015
Keyword
Authoritarian Regimes, Civic Participation, Civic Voluntarism Model, e-Participation, Facebook, Online Participation, Self-Censorship, SNS, Uganda
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-44458 (URN)10.4018/IJEP.2015040102 (DOI)
Projects
Doctoral studies
Available from: 2015-04-24 Created: 2015-04-24 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
3. Citizen-to-Citizen vs. Citizen-to-Government eParticipation in Uganda: Implications for Research and Practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Citizen-to-Citizen vs. Citizen-to-Government eParticipation in Uganda: Implications for Research and Practice
2015 (English)In: Electronic Participation, ePart 2015, Springer, 2015, 95-107 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is growing globally, as is interest in the use of digital technologies to improve citizens' participation in governance. In African countries, where ICT use remains low and where there is a democratic deficit, the nature and extent of citizens' participation via ICT is unknown. Based on a print questionnaire with 322 internet users in Uganda, this paper compares citizen-to-citizen (C2C) participation and citizen-to-government (C2G) participation, examines the factors that hinder greater C2C and C2G online participation, and explores the implications for greater eParticipation in future. For effective eParticipation, the majority of Ugandan internet users need to become more active as creators of online content, as well as conversationalists and critics. Results show that regardless of whether it is engagements among citizens or between citizens and leaders, most citizens are spectators.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2015
Series
Lecture Notes in Computer Science, ISSN 0302-9743 ; 9249
Keyword
Uganda, eParticipation, Citizen participation, Online participation
National Category
Computer Sciences
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-46511 (URN)10.1007/978-3-319-22500-5_8 (DOI)000363261300008 ()2-s2.0-84944809791 (Scopus ID)978-3-319-22500-5 (ISBN)
Conference
7th Annual International IFIP WG 8.5 Conference on Electronic Participation (ePart), Thessaloniki, Greece, August 30-September 2, 2015
Available from: 2015-11-17 Created: 2015-11-16 Last updated: 2018-01-10Bibliographically approved
4. Enhancing Social Accountability Through ICT: Success Factors and Challenges
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Enhancing Social Accountability Through ICT: Success Factors and Challenges
2015 (English)In: Proceedings of CeDEM 2015 (International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2015), Danube University Krems, Austria, May 20-22, 2015 / [ed] Peter Parycek and Noella Edelmann, Austria, 2015Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper examines the state of citizen participation in public accountability processes via Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). It draws on three projects that use ICT to report public service delivery failures in Uganda, mainly in the education, public health and the roads sectors. While presenting common factors hampering meaningful use of ICT for citizens’ monitoring of public services and eParticipation in general, the paper studies the factors that enabled successful whistle blowing using toll free calling, blogging, radio talk shows, SMS texting, and e-mailing. The paper displays examples of the positive impacts of whistle-blowing mechanisms and draws up a list of success factors applicable to these projects. It also outlines common challenges and drawbacks to initiatives that use ICT to enable citizen participation in social accountability. The paper provides pathways that could give ICT-for-participation and for-accountability initiatives in countries with characteristics similar to Uganda a good chance of achieving success. While focusing on Uganda, the paper may be of practical value to policy makers, development practitioners and academics in countries with similar socio-economic standings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Austria: , 2015
Series
Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government
Keyword
eParticipation, social accountability, transparency, ICT4D, service delivery
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-44460 (URN)
Conference
International Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government 2015
Available from: 2015-04-25 Created: 2015-04-25 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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