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Journal Article

Using SMS Texting to Encourage Democratic Participation by Youth Citizens: a Case Study of a Project in an English Local Authority  pp79-86

David Griffin, Philippa Trevorrow, Edward Halpin, Edward Halpin

© Dec 2006 Volume 4 Issue 2, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp49 - 94

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Abstract

Public administrations across Europe take the view that using digital media for consultation with citizens will help to increase their democratic participation. In the UK, the Government has encouraged local authorities to experiment with new electronic communication channels for this purpose. This paper presents a case study in which one such medium, the mobile phone, is being used in an attempt to raise participation amongst young people. It evaluates a project set up to use SMS text messaging as a means of electronic consultation with young people by a council in the North of England. Specifically, it examines the effect of text messaging on democratic participation by the young and the effect of this type of consultation on the processes of the political administration. This case study identifies a number of organizational, social and cultural issues that may limit the scope for using this technology to increase youth participation and change the relationship between young people and their local elected representatives. Based on the initial evidence from this case study, we take the cyber‑sceptic stance. We suggest that the mobile phone is not the 'silver bullet' for invigorating consultation with young people by the local public administration. We identify a series of potential barriers to increasing participation by youth and changing the relationship between the elected politicians and their constituents.

 

Keywords: e-Democracy, e-Consultation, local government, young people, mobile telephony, case study

 

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