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PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED PIPPA NORRIS DRAFT 1 7656 WORDS 10 9 2001 Preaching to the Converted Pluralism Participation and Party Websites Pippa Norris Shorenstein Center John F Kennedy School of Government Harvard University Cambridge MA 02138 Pippa Norris Harvard edu www pippanorris com Synopsis A growing body of American research based on analysis of campaign websites in US elections suggests three propositions Firstly party and candidate websites in America are more effective in strengthening representative democracy via pluralism rather than direct democracy via participation In particular there is evidence that the virtual world does provide a more competitive playing field for minor parties and candidates than traditional forms of campaign communications like paid TV ads and coverage in newspapers and television Nevertheless most campaign websites by mainstream parties and candidates have proved relatively conservative in design acting more like electronic top down electronic pamphlets than as a radically new forum for interactive bottom up participation And lastly among the electorate campaign websites serve primarily to activate the active rather than reaching the apathetic Are similar patterns apparent in the European context To consider these issues Part I lays out the debate about the function of the Internet for pluralism and participation Part II outlines the research design including content analysis of 134 websites and survey data of users in the fifteen European Union member states from the Spring 2000 Eurobarometer Part III examines the evidence for patterns of competition in European party websites while Part IV analyzes patterns of participation among European users The conclusion summarizes the key results and considers the consequences for representative democracy and for public policy Draft 1 For Party Politics 1 PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED PIPPA NORRIS DRAFT 1 7656 WORDS 10 9 2001 In modern societies the availability of information is critical



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