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Abstract

In her paper, "Political Deliberation and E-Participation in Policy-Making," Rebecca J. Romsdahl proposes that the internet has now become a valuable medium for information dissemination and long distance communication; it is also gaining attention as a potential tool for political deliberation. Public participation has been a long-standing tradition in American democracy but most scholars today believe it needs a revival. Some of these scholars believe that e-participation in policy-making could help revitalize political discussion between citizens and government and promote greater participation by disenfranchised groups. Whether this would lead to greater opportunities for true deliberation on political issues and not just add to the prolific exchange of conversation on the internet, however, is a more difficult question. Romsdahl argues that despite the internet's ability to reduce the transaction costs of participation, true deliberation will be more difficult to develop. The internet poses great challenges for the essential components of deliberation, such as ensuring access for all interested individuals, fair and equal involvement for all participants, development of interpersonal trust, and the ability to produce effective dialogue on complex, value-laden issues.

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