Communications of the Association for Information Systems

Article Title

Models of E-Democracy


Several theories of E-Democracy have been presented, and implementations of and experiments in E-Democracy emerged. However, existing literature on the subject appears rather non-comprehensive, lacking an integrated basis, for gathering knowledge in the future. After an analysis of theories of E-Democracy versus implementations reported in related literature, we address the need for a model generally absent from contemporary theoretical literature: the Partisan model of E-Democracy. We aim to simplify the current "jungle" of E-Democracy models into four idealised models: the Liberal, the Deliberative, the Partisan, and the Direct. We aim to illustrate how current theories of E-Democracy, in addition to reported implementations, may be covered by these models. The explanatory potential of these four models is illustrated by analysing implementations of a communication technology for E-Democracy, the web-based discussion forum. We argue that, instead of viewing technology, such as the Internet, as a "black box," any implementation of E-Democracy should be adapted to the specific democracy model(s) pursued by a particular initiative. In addition, E-Democracy researchers could be more specific about their standard of democracy, in order to avoid artificial comparisons or criticisms of contemporary E-Democracy without an explicit framework of criteria. Finally, we discuss the possibilities of unifying the ideals from different models on E-Democracy. We suggest that any context of E-Democracy may in fact require elements from all four models to stay dynamic over time.