컴퓨터 매개 정치의 패러독스 - 전자 민주주의와 한국사회 현실에 대한 비판적 검토
The Paradox of Computer-Mediated Politics - Critical Review on the E-Democracy in Korean Society
Most of the literature on e-democracy focuses on the media-centered, technology-deterministic approach. However, the core of e-democracy is the change in the production and flow of political information in cyberspace. In terms of communication, this study regards the concept of e-democracy as being attained by the participation of both ordinary people and politicians in cyberspace in the process of political decision making regarding the issues related to everyday life. There are four types of e-democracy in cyberspace: plebiscitary, deliberative, communitarian and pluralistic democracy. But the ideal of e-democracy has not been realized in any of these four levels. The paradox of computer-mediated politics is the gap between the expectations on e-democracy based on technological determinism and the discomforting reality revealed by the literature on the uses of computer network. By review of literature on internet users and survey data, this study attempts to investigate the reality of computer-mediated politics in Korean society in terms of communicator, message, effects, and political culture. First, politicians do not regard cyberspace as interactive channels of political communication but as a means of political campaign. Citizens rarely participate in computer-mediated politics. The relationship between politicians and citizens is maintained as unequitable sender-receiver relations. Fortunately, the political discussion among citizens is very lively in cyberspace. It is expected that the horizontal communication among citizens will contribute to the activation of the vertical communication between politicians and citizens. Second, the messages of computer-mediated political communication show high redundancy of information, low signal-to-noise ratio due to anonymity, and top-down flow of communication. Netizens are suggested to endeavor to enhance the variety and quality of mes-sages. Third, there is little feedback from the side of politicians. We cannot definitely conclude that computer-mediated politics will bring in the changes in the real-world politics. But the on-line activities of civic associations in the 16th general election for lawmakers showed the possibility that cyberspace can affect the electoral process. In order to activate computer-mediated politics, the institutional devices need to be established so that the public opinion in cyberspace can be reflect in the public policy. Finally, the so-called "delay in digital mind" syndrome is wide-spread in our society; that is, the gap is wide between the digital technology and the analogue way of thinking. For example, politician regards political website as show-off devices. Socio-political factors including the absence of public sphere and the authoritarian political culture seem to be in the way of actualization of e-democracy.
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