Digital Agoras: Democratic Legitimacy, Online Participation and Uber's Petitions

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This article discusses the impact of social media and new technologies of participation on citizen participation in lawmaking. This article focuses on electronic petitioning and examines how Uber, a controversial ride-sharing digital platform, has employed a traditional instrument of civic engagement for lobbying purposes. Notwithstanding the platform’s ability to mobilize thousands of citizens, it is unclear how these and other online petitions should be evaluated from the point of view of their democratic legitimacy. Drawing on the analysis of Uber petitions and the review of the legal and social science literature, I argue that technology has shaped civic engagement in the case of e-petitioning, by mobilizing citizens at a faster pace, promoting political and legal discussions in apolitical platforms, and providing more information at lower costs. I suggest that technology has nonetheless not solved the democratic deficits of online petitioning, partially due to its limited influence and the leadership of participatory initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-54
JournalThe Theory and Practice of Legislation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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