Democracy requires free speech, but the channels for free speech and communication vary across time and place. With reference to ongoing democratization processes, or to potential ruptures inside of authoritarian regimes, the role of mass communication, both by means of the conventional press and the internet, is an unavoidable topic of study.
The chapter examines the specificities of the internet as a “public sphere” for processes of regime transition, notably its transnational character, its potential for informal communication, its interactive character, the networking capacity it creates, and its medium-term political socialization potential. It also covers new censorship strategies designed by states to limit the freedom of the internet.
The role of the internet in fostering democratization in four African cases (Tunisia, Egypt, Angola, and Zimbabwe) is then studied, namely by considering material infrastructures, underlying socio-cultural conditions, and the efforts made by governments to curb its political effects.
The conclusion discusses the potential of the internet for fostering the breakup of authoritarian regimes and subsequent democratization processes, with reference to the African cases studied.
Acknowledgment is due to Gustavo Lira’s technical advice on ICT.
Ramos, C.T. (2019), "From the Freedom of the Press to the Freedom of the Internet: A New Public Sphere in the Making?", Visvizi, A. and Lytras, M.D. (Ed.) Politics and Technology in the Post-Truth Era (Emerald Studies in Politics and Technology), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 9-22. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78756-983-620191002
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2019, Cláudia Toriz Ramos