Quiet living. Challenges of citizen participation in digitized society

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Quiet living. Challenges of citizen participation in digitized society The aim of this paper is to present and address challenges that citizens may encounter in the intersecting questions of democracy, digitization, and participation. Empirically, the paper draws on findings from an extensive study of media competences and media literacy in a Danish context, conducted in the fall 2014 (Stald, Hjelholt & Høvsgaard 2015). The findings from this study are supported by new quantitative data on digital media use, news media and democracy and by on two pilot studies on marginalized groups, digitization, and perceptions of citizenship. From 2011 and forwards a new digitization strategy for public systems has been implemented in Denmark. According to the strategy, all interactions between the system and the citizen in its multiple contexts are now by default digital and online. The logic is that Denmark is among the most digitally integrated countries around the globe, and that digitization already increasingly been adopted over the past decades by the societal systems, and by groups and individual persons. The vast majority of Danes own multiple, digital communication devices and have long experience with digital media and media content from their private sphere as well as from their work or education. Denmark can therefore be characterized as a digital society. The following quotes from the media literacy study illustrate two different situations and experiences with digitization of citizen life: “Before .. You would receive letters from the municipalities, you would receive a letter that you could open, and then you could have it in front of you. Now you have to be active and go in and check: anything incoming? And it can be weeks between where you do not go in and check.” (Male, 57 years) “It’s unheard of and not at all sustainable. And NemID, you cannot base everything like bank account, personal data, everything you have, the whole family, the house, loans, all sorts of information, on a key card which, if it is lost, can be misused … everywhere. It is so easy to find that person’s information.” (Male, 21 years) The main argument in the paper is that citizens generally in their local everyday life use digital media just enough to manage their citizen life in relation to big and small systems. Their civic agency focus on their local, personally embedded interests and issues (Bakardjieva 2009; Uldam & Vestergaard 2015). On the one hand, they need to be and become active, participating citizens, facilitated by digital services and systems, in order to be included and recognized active members of society (Coleman & Blumler 2009 Coleman 2015; Dahlgren 2009, 2011, 2013). They also need to connect to their community in order to achieve the experience of meaningfulness and potentially influence (Bennet & Segerberg 2012). This, on the other hand, to some degree collides with a prominent wish to exploit the potentials of the same digital opportunities in order live a quiet, peaceful, local life where the local meaningfulness is not overly disrupted or challenged by larger, potentially global problems and required participation.


Konference6th European Communication Conference. Mediated (Dis)Continuities: Contesting Pasts, Presents and Futures
LokationPrague Congress Centre


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