Revisiting E-topia: Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings on Online Anonymity

Asenbaum, H. 2017. Revisiting E-topia: Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings on Online Anonymity. Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra.

TitleRevisiting E-topia: Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings on Online Anonymity
AuthorsAsenbaum, H.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

As social hierarchies along identity markers of gender, race, age etc. are replicated within participatory spaces, the question arises as to how online participation and its modes of identity reconfiguration might affect this dilemma. This paper first revisits the discussions about cyberdemocracy in the 1990s, which focused on the liberating effects of anonymity facilitating an inclusive sphere of equals. It then moves on to the arguments of cyberfeminist debates, criticizing the naivety of cyberdemocracy by pointing to the persistence of offline inequalities in cyberspace. Current discussions pick up this criticism and focus on visual re-embodiment and the persistence of identity online. After giving an overview of these theoretical debates, the paper turns to empirical findings on the effects of online anonymity. Various studies from different disciplines show that anonymity has both democratic and anti-democratic effects. It both liberates the democratic subjects and at the same time contributes to new modes of domination. Thus, the theoretical accounts of optimistic cyberdemocrats and pessimistic cyberfeminists together contribute to a holistic understanding of online anonymity in participatory spaces.

Keywordsdemocracy, anonymity, identity, digital democracy, participation
Year2017
PublisherCentre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, University of Canberra
Publisher's versionAsenbaum_Revisiting_Etopia_CDD&GG_IGPA_WPS_180123_WEB.pdf
Publication dates
PublishedDec 2017
JournalThe Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance Working Paper Series
Journal citation2017 (3), pp. 1-14
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttp://www.governanceinstitute.edu.au/magma/media/upload/ckeditor/files/UCRE0133_Revisiting_Etopia_CDD&GG_IGPA_WPS_180123_WEB.pdf

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