Evaluating the use of the Internet by parliaments and representatives in the UK and Australia, contributing to current debates about the health of representative parliamentary democracy and the role of political representatives in the 21st century.

Overview

This project evaluated comparatively the use of the Internet by parliaments and representatives in the UK and Australia. It concentrated on three aspects of usage:

  • How far Members of Parliament (MPs) and Assembly Members (AMs) collectively use the new technologies within parliaments and assemblies to improve scrutiny of the executive.
  • The extent to which they are using new technology to communicate with their constituents and the public in general and whether such usage can widen participation in the political process.
  • The reach and effectiveness of MPs’ and Parliaments’ new media strategies.

The comparative element of the project was designed to help understand the factors that shape patterns of parliamentary Internet usage such as institutional history, political rules and access to the technology. Overall, the research contributed to debates about the health of representative parliamentary democracy and the role of political representatives in the 21st century.

These issues were being examined over a two year period (2003-2005) in six parliaments/assemblies including: the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments, the Welsh Assembly, the Australian Federal Parliament at Canberra, and two Australian state legislatures in Queensland and Victoria.

Support

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) ‘e-Society’ research programme.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

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