Skip to main content Accesibility Help
×
×
Home

Making a Difference: Toward a Feminist Democratic Theory in the Digital Age

  • Hans Asenbaum (a1)
Abstract

This essay asks how the democratic ideal of inclusion can be achieved in societies marked by power asymmetries along the lines of identity categories such as gender and race. It revisits debates of difference democracy of the 1990s, which promoted inclusion through a politics of presence of marginalized social groups. This strategy inevitably entails essentializing tendencies, confining the democratic subject within its physically embodied identity. Difference democrats did not take notice of the parallel emerging discourse on cyberfeminism exploring novel identity configurations on the Internet. This essay augments the politics of presence with digital identity reconfigurations. Neither difference democrats nor cyberfeminists distinguish between various participatory sites. Drawing on conceptions of participatory spaces from development studies and deliberative democracy, this essay generates a typology differentiating between empowered spaces such as parliaments, invited spaces such as citizens' assemblies, and the claimed spaces of social movements. The democratic functions these spaces fulfil are best facilitated by three different modes of identity performance: identity continuation, identity negation, and identity exploration. A pluralization of participatory sites and modes of identity performance facilitates inclusion while tackling the essentializing tendencies in difference democracy.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All

I would like to express my thanks to Selen Ercan and Marion Stöger, whose extensive comments have helped improve this article. I am also deeply grateful to Kimmo Grönlund and the Social Science Research Institute at Åbo Akademi University for a visiting fellowship that enabled me to work on this paper. Finally, my thanks go to three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Asenbaum, Hans. 2018a. “Anonymity and Democracy: Absence as Presence in the Public Sphere.” American Political Science Review 112 (3): 459–72. doi:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055418000163.
Asenbaum, Hans. 2018b. “Cyborg Activism: Exploring the Reconfigurations of Democratic Subjectivity in Anonymous.” New Media & Society 20 (4): 15431563. doi:10.1177/1461444817699994.
Bächtiger, André, Sörndli, Markus, Steenbergen, Marco, and Steiner, Jürgen. 2005. “The Deliberative Dimensions of Legislatures.” Acta Politica 40 (2): 225–38.
Bakhtin, Mikhail. 1968. Rabelais and His World. 1st ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Beauvais, Edana. 2017. “Discursive Equality.” University of British Columbia.
Berg, Janne. 2017. “The Dark Side of E-Petitions? Exploring Anonymous Signatures.” First Monday 22 (2): 111.
Brock, Karen, Cornwall, Andrea, and Gaventa, John. 2001. “Power, Knowledge and Political Spaces in the Framing of Powerty Policy.” 143. Working Papers of the Institute of Development Studies. Brighton.
Brophy, Jessica. 2010. “Developing a Corporeal Cyberfeminism: Beyond Cyberutopia.” New Media & Society 12 (6): 929–45.
Burns, Nancy, Schlozman, Kay, Jardina, Ashley, Shames, Shauna, and Verba, Sidney. 2018. “What Happened to the Gender Gap in Political Participaton? How Might We Explain It?” In 100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment: An Appraisal of Women's Political Activism, ed. McCammon, Holly and Banaszak, Lee Ann, 69104. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Campos-Castillo, Celeste. 2015. “Revisiting the First-Level Digital Divide in the United States: Gender and Race/Ethnicity Patterns.” Social Science Computer Review 33 (4): 423–39.
Castells, Manuel. 2012. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Coffé, Hilde, and Bolzendahl, Catherine. 2010. “Same Game, Different Rules? Gender Differences in Political Participation.” Sex Roles 62 (5–6): 318–33.
Cohen, Julie. 2012. Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code, and the Play of Everyday Practice. New Haven, CT/London: Yale University Press.
Coleman, Stephen. 2004. “Connecting Parliament to the Public via the Internet: Two Case Studies of Online Consultations.” Information, Communication & Society 7 (1): 122.
Cornwall, Andrea. 2002. “Making Spaces, Changing Places: Situating Participation in Development.” 170. IDS Working Papers. Brighton.
Cornwall, Andrea. 2004. “New Democratic Spaces? The Politics and Dynamics of Institutionalised Participation.” IDS Bulletin 35 (2): 110.
Cornwall, Andrea, and Coelho, Vera Schattan, eds. 2007. Spaces for Change? The Politics of Citzen Participation in New Democratic Arenas. 1st ed. London & New York: Zed Books.
Danet, Brenda. 1998. “Text as Mask: Gender, Play, and Performance on the Internet.” In Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting Computer-Mediated Communication and Community, ed. Jones, Steven, 129–58. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Daniels, Jessie. 2009. “Rethinking Cyberfeminism(s): Race, Gender, and Embodiment.” Women's Studies Quarterly 37 (1&2): 101–24.
Davies, Todd, and Chandler, Reid. 2012. “Online Deliberation: Choices, Criteria, and Evidence.” In Online Democracy in Motion: Evaluating the Practice and Impact of Deliberative Civic Engagement, ed. Nabatchi, Tina, Gastil, John, Leighninger, Matt, and Weiksner, G Michael, 141. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
della Porta, Donatella, and Rucht, Dieter. 2013. Meeting Democracy: Power and Deliberation in Global Justice Movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dryzek, John. 2000. Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dryzek, John. 2009. “Democtitization as Deliberative Capacity Building.” Comparative Political Studies 42 (11): 13791402.
Evans, Claire. 2018. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. 1st ed. New York: Portfolio/Penguin.
Fernandez, Maria, and Wilding, Faith. 2002. “Situating Cyberfeminism.” In Domain Errors! Cyberfeminist Practices, ed. Fernandez, Maria, Wilding, Faith, and Wright, Michelle, 1728. New York: Autonomedia and SubRosa.
Font, Joan, Smith, Graham, Galais, Carol, and Alarcon, P A U. 2017. “Cherry-Picking Participation: Explaining the Fate of Proposals From Participatory Processes.” European Journal of Political Research, 122.
Fox, Richard, and Lawless, Jennifer. 2014. “Uncovering the Origins of the Gender Gap in Political Ambition.” American Political Science Review 108 (3): 499519.
Fraser, Nancy. 1990. “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy.” Social Text 25/26:5680.
Fraser, Nancy. 1996. “Equality, Difference, and Radical Democracy: The United States Feminist Debate Revisited.” In Radical Democracy: Identity, Citizenship, and the State, ed. Trend, David, 197208. New York: Routledge.
Gajjala, Radhika, and Oh, Yeon Ju, eds. 2012. Cyberfeminism 2.0. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Gaventa, John. 2006. “Finding the Spaces for Change: A Power Analysis.” IDS Bulletin 37 (6): 2333.
Gerbaudo, Paolo. 2015. “Protest Avatars as Memetic Signifiers: Political Profile Pictures and the Construction of Collective Identity on Social Media in the 2011 Protest Wave.” Information, Communication & Society 18 (8): 916–29.
Gould, Carol. 1993. “Feminism and Democratic Community Revisited.” In Democratic Community: NOMOS XXXV, ed. Chapman, John and Shapiro, Ian, 396413. New York: New York University Press.
Gould, Carol. 1996. “Diversity and Democracy: Representing Difference.” In Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political, ed. Benhabib, Seyla, 171–86. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Grosz, Elizabeth. 2001. Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Gulati, Girish. 2004. “Members of Congress and Presentation of Self on the World Wide Web.” International Journal of Press/Politics 9 (1): 2240.
Haraway, Donna. 1991. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 149–81. London: Free Association Books.
Jackson, Nigel, and Lilleker, Darren. 2009. “MPs and E-Representation: Me, MySpace and I.” British Politics 4 (2): 236–64.
Jackson, Nigel, and Lilleker, Darren. 2011. “Microblogging, Constituency Service and Impression Management: UK MPs and the Use of Twitter.” Journal of Legislative Studies 17 (1): 86105.
Joshi, Devin, and Rosenfield, Erica. 2013. “MP Transparency, Communication Links and Social Media: A Comparative Assessment of 184 Parliamentary Websites.” Journal of Legislative Studies 19 (4): 526–45.
Karpowitz, Christopher, and Mendelberg, Tali. 2014. The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, and Institutions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kolko, Beth. 2000. “Erase @race: Going White in the (Inter)Face.” In Race in Cyberspace, ed. Kolko, Beth, Nakamura, Lisa, and Rodman, Gilbert, 213–32. New York/London: Routledge.
Koop, Royce, and Marland, Alex. 2012. “Insiders and Outsiders: Presentation of Self on Canadian Parliamentary Websites and Newsletters.” Policy & Internet 4 (3): 112–35.
La Raja, Raymond. 2011. “Does Transparency of Political Activity Have a Chilling Effect on Participation?” In Meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association. Chicago.
Mansbridge, Jane. 1983. Beyond Adversary Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Mansbridge, Jane. 1991. “Democracy, Deliberation and the Experience of Women.” In Higher Education and the Practice of Democratic Politics: A Political Education Reader, ed. Murchland, Bernard, 122–35. Dayton: Kettering Foundation.
Mansbridge, Jane. 1993. “Feminism and Democratic Community.” In Democratic Community: NOMOS XXXV, ed. Chapman, John and Shapiro, Ian, 339–95. New York: New York University Press.
Mansbridge, Jane. 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes.’Journal of Politics 61 (3): 628–57.
Mansbridge, Jane. 2005. “Quota Problems: Combating the Dangers of Essentialism.” Politics & Gender 1 (4): 621–53.
Mattoni, Alice, and Doerr, Nicole. 2007. “Images Within the Precarity Movement in Italy.” Feminist Review 87 (1): 130–35.
McKenna, Brad, Gardner, Lesley, and Myers, Michael. 2011. “Social Movements in World of Warcraft.” In Proceedings of the Seventeenth Americas Conference on Information Systems, 18. Detroit.
Mortensen, Torill Elvira. 2018. “Anger, Fear, and Games: The Long Event of #GamerGate.” Games and Culture 13 (8): 787806. doi:10.1177/1555412016640408.
Motter, Jennifer. 2011. “Feminist Virtual World Activism: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, Guerilla Girls BroadBand, and SubRosa.” Visual Culture & Gender 6:108–18.
Nakamura, Lisa. 2002. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York/London: Routledge.
Papacharissi, Zizi. 2011. A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and the Culture on Social Network Sites. New York: Routledge.
Pateman, Carole. 1989. The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism, and Political Theory. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Peixoto, Tiago, and Fox, Jonathan. 2016. “Digital Dividends: When Does ICT-Enabled Citizen Voice Lead to Government Responsiveness?”
Phillips, Anne. 1991. Engendering Democracy. 1st ed. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Phillips, Anne. 1993. Democracy and Difference. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Phillips, Anne. 1995. The Politics of Presence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Plant, Sadie. 1997. Zeros + Ones. London: 4th Estate Limited.
Polletta, Francesca. 2002. Freedom Is an Endless Meeting: Democracy in American Social Movements. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rhee, June Wong, and Kim, Eun-mee. 2009. “Deliberation on the Net: Lessons from a Field Experiment.” In Online Deliberation: Design, Research, and Practice, ed. Davies, Todd and Gangadharan, Seeta Peña, 223–32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ruesch, Michelle Anna, and Märker, Oliver. 2012. “Real Name Policy in E-Participation: The Case of Gütersloh's Second Participatory Budget.” In CeDEM12: Conference for E-Democracy and Open Government, ed. Parycek, Peter and Edelmann, Noella, 109124. Krems: Edition Donau-Universität Krems.
Sanders, Lynn. 1997. “Against Deliberation.” Political Theory 25 (3): 347–76.
Schmidt, Jan-Hinrik, and Johnsen, Katharina. 2014. “On the Use of the E-Petition Platform of the German Bundestag.” 3. HIIG Discussion Paper Series.
Schmitz, Rachel. 2016. “Intersections of Hate: Exploring the Transecting Dimensions of Race, Religion, Gender, and Family in Ku Klux Klan Web Sites.” Sociological Focus 49 (3): Routledge: 200214.
Setälä, Maija, and Grönlund, Kimmo. 2006. “Parliamentary Websites: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives.” Information Polity 11 (2): 149–62.
Sick, Andrea. 2004. “Dream-Machine: Cyberfeminism.” In Cyberfeminism: Next Protocols, ed. Reiche, Claudia and Kuni, Verena, 4964. New York: Autonomedia.
Smith, Graham. 2009. Democratic Innovations: Designing Institutions for Citizen Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stanyer, James. 2008. “Elected Representatives, Online Self-Presentation and the Personal Vote: Party, Personality and Webstyles in the United States and United Kingdom.” Information Systems Frontiers, Loughborough University's Institutional Repository, 11 (3): 113–31.
Stein, Gertrude. 2011. “Guerrilla Girls and Guerrilla Girls BroadBand: Inside Story.” Art Journal 70 (2): 88101.
Stoycheff, Elizabeth. 2016. “Under Surveillance: Examining Facebook's Spiral of Silence Effects in the Wake of NSA Internet Monitoring.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 93 (2): 116.
Sunstein, Cass. 2017. #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Turkle, Sherry. 1984. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. London: Granada.
Volkart, Yvonne. 2004. “The Cyberfeminist Fantasy of the Pleasure of the Cyborg.” In Cyberfeminism: Next Protocols, ed. Reiche, Claudia and Kuni, Verena, 97117. New York: Autonomedia.
Wajcman, Judy. 2004. TechnoFeminism. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Young, Iris Marion. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Young, Iris Marion. 1994. “Gender as Seriality: Thinking about Women as a Social Collective.” Signs 19 (3): 713–38.
Young, Iris Marion. 1997a. “Deferring Group Representation.” In Ethnicity and Group Rights, ed. Shapiro, Ian and Kymlicka, Will, 349–76. New York: New York University Press.
Young, Iris Marion. 1997b. “Difference as a Resource for Democratic Communication.” In Deliberative Democracy: Essays on Reason and Politics, ed. Bohman, James and Rehg, William, 383406. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Young, Iris Marion. 2000. Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed