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Power, hierarchy and the internet: why the internet empowers and disempowers

Mansell, Robin (2016) Power, hierarchy and the internet: why the internet empowers and disempowers. Global Studies Journal, 9 (2). pp. 19-25. ISSN 1835-4432

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This paper examines some of the reasons for the persistent debate about whether the Internet is empowering or disempowering for civil society actors. The Internet is sometimes associated with the end of hierarchy because of its technical architecture and, at other times, with a disempowering lack of transparency. In the “big data” era power relations are giving rise to hierarchy, notwithstanding the flat architecture of the Internet. The paper considers models of governance to demonstrate that available models are ambiguous with regard to the exercise of governing authority. It concludes that mediated communication is neither wholly exploitative nor liberating. What it is in practice is conditioned by the ways in which authority is articulated through institutional norms. Research is needed to better understand the mix of governance models operating in practice and on the extent to which this leads to disturbances that give rise to unpredictable outcomes for citizens.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Common Ground, Robin Mansell
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2016 12:22
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 15:26

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