An article by José Ramos published by Springer (2016) as Chapter 11 of the book “The Future Internet, Public Administration and Information Technology”, J. Winter, R. Ono (eds.).
“The governance of our societies and our world is in transition. Far from an endpoint or ‘End of History’, as Fukuyama presumptuously argued (Fukuyama 1989), the systems (both cultural and structural) by which we govern ourselves and, by extension, the practices of democracy are changing. This transition is multifaceted, involving visions of transformative change, new disruptive technologies, emerging political cultures, and long-standing legacy systems.There is a general global dissatisfaction with political governance that can be described as a ‘democratic deficit’. A democratic deficit describes a situation where, as common people’s expectations and needs for greater political involvement increase, common people’s real power in relation to their political systems decreases. Recent years have seen the rapid emergence of political movements against oligarchic power: principally the World Social Forum Process, Los Indignados, the Arab Spring, and Occupy Wall Street, but others which are widespread in over many countries (Ramos 2010). Alongside this, new Web technologies are creating opportunities for experiments and innovations in public and participatory involvement in governmental decision-making, which are changing popular expectations. However, we have seen the continuing trend in the centralization, consolidation, and capture of political power by economic and political elites.We are at a crossroads. Will we live in a world of oligarchs, where a super-rich and powerful class of people governs our planet? Or will the aspirations for distributed participatory decision-making create a world of deep democracy, where citizens have real lateral power in deciding the nature of their worlds? This chapter is organized to thematically clarify the issues and challenges that confront us. In the first section, an overview is given of the critical factors in the add-mix of change, which include disruptive technologies, the legacy of representative democracy and visions for deep and dynamic political participation. In the second section, I introduce the concept of ‘political culture’ and ‘political contract’, two key concepts that are used to articulate the transition from representative democracy to a new approach. In the third section, I use weak signal and emerging issues analysis to posit Liquid Democracy as indicative of a new wave in popular governance. In the last section, I develop several scenarios for the futures of governance and democracy, informed by a discussion concerning the evolving future Internet.”
Full article available here.