Book Review: The Digital Citizen(ship) - Politics and Democracy in the Networked Society by Luigi Ceccarini.

AuthorChadha, Astha
PositionArticle 8

Ceccarini, Luigi. The Digital Citizen(ship) - Politics and Democracy in the Networked Society. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 2021. xi + 184 pages. Hardcover, $118.85.

Luigi Ceccarini's book navigates the constantly evolving character of post-representative democracy marked by the role of media as well as changing categories of citizenship and political community in the Internet age. The digital age constantly reinvigorates multiple "public" spaces and plural identities, as the traditional notions of nation-state fade into the background and terms like "democracy," "citizen," and "political space" are becoming more fluid and losing clear definitions. The author argues that social media has been both indicative of and instrumental in democratic mechanisms redefined by increasing the populism that has reshaped the very scope of representation. In turn, social media is broadening the concept of the 'networked' community and democracy through Web 2.0, i.e., social media and mobile.

Regarding the redefinition of (digital) citizenship, the author predicts a diminishing significance of ritualistic voting in light of voter distrust in political systems and institutions of power, as observed in Western (particularly European) democracies. At the same time, the book hints at the internet inciting movement towards voter's political involvement in specific/individualistic issues and events, thereby pushing the "responsible" citizen into passivity.

While the Internet is considered potent enough to blur the boundaries between online and offline spaces where citizens interact, exercise monitoring, and show participation in the post-modern democratic setups, it also offers opportunities towards inclusive citizenship as new patterns of (web-based) collectivism emerge. However, the Internet, through its multifaceted character, can also breed counter-democratic sentiments--a political form comprising of ambiguous actors that threaten to challenge or reverse democracy.

Referring to the future of e-democracy, the book offers an optimistic possibility--(digital) citizens can shape the trajectory of democracy as a way of life. The author invokes the quintessential (good) citizens possessing creativity, awareness, and ethics to uphold representative democracy despite contradictory (and often ambiguous) impacts of the digital revolution of political and civic life.

The book answers questions through open-ended suggestions: for example, it cites the...

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