Social media platforms are lowering the boundaries to access and participation in conversation linked to governmental services. Participation is being facilitated in numerous ways, for instance: through national and local government adopting social media channels for citizen communication; community groups using social media as platforms to engender community action; and citizen-citizen communication about problems in their local region. In addition, there is a perception that this development can help to enhance the prospects for existing democracies to include their citizens in the political process.
However, at the same time a brief look at the public sphere in democratic states will show an ambivalent impact of social media on the public sphere. Here the keywords surveillance, sousveillance, coveillance, digital divide and censorship are essential to sketching the field of discussion. The question is whether e-participation through social media really enhances participation of the people, or whether it privileges those who are already participating, regardless of the technical possibilities.
This special issue encourages discussion of the range of different ways in which e-participation through social media is occurring, including what it is facilitating. In addition, it will help in determining potential future research directions in this area of interest and enable discussion on the impact of social media on the public sphere and its consequences for democracy and its practises.
The issue will carry revised and substantially extended versions of selected papers presented at the European Conference on Social Media (ECSM 2014) minitrack on eParticipation and Democracy, but we also strongly encourage researchers unable to participate in the conference to submit articles for this call.
Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Social media and democracy
- Social media and participation
- Social media and the public sphere
- Future chances of social media and e-participation
- Risks of e-participation
Submission of manuscripts: 31 January, 2015 (extended deadline)
Interim notification to authors: 31 March, 2015
Revised versions due: 30 April, 2015
Final notification to authors: 31 May, 2015
Final versions due: 15 June, 2015