What is it about?

Since societies are marked by discrimination of different sexes and races, the democratic ideals of inclusion and equality are compromised in processes of direct democratic participation. New forms of political participation on the internet generate new opportunities to tackle this problem. The article uses feminist democratic theory to answer the question of how equality can be advanced through online participation. It argues that only being able to express one side of the personal identity is limiting. When people engage directly with each other in face-to-face settings, they are often exposed to stereotyping. Online communication, in contrast, allows for the expression of different sides of the self. The article shows, how online communication allows for three kinds of expressing identity. (1) Users can either continue their offline identities online by using their "real" images. This is particularly useful for members of parliament who are accountable to the public. (2) Users also have the option to completely hide their identities and use anonymity. This is useful for democratic innovations where the government invites citizen to deliberate political issues because anonymity allows for temporally increasing equality. (3) Lastly, users can also create new "fake" identities online. This kind of online masquerade is useful for social movements because it advances freedom of expression by showing multiple and diverse aspects of personal identity.

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Why is it important?

This article addresses two crucial aspects of current societies. First, it addresses deep inequalities and modes of discrimination along identity categories, such as gender and race. In terms of a progressive politics, which this article advances, it is imperative to find ways to tackle discrimination. Second, the article addresses the crucial role digital media play in current societies. The use of digital media changes how we interact with each other. These changes are happening rapidly and we have to pay close attention to what this does to us. This article tries to find positive ways to use digital media to improve democracy.

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This page is a summary of: Making a Difference: Toward a Feminist Democratic Theory in the Digital Age, Politics and Gender, January 2019, Cambridge University Press, DOI: 10.1017/s1743923x18001010.
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