Citizenship in the age of the Internet: a comparative analysis of Britain and Turkey
Karakaya Polat, Rabia
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The article links the literatures on citizenship studies and electronic democracy by analyzing the extent to which theories and practices of citizenship are being transformed in the age of the Internet. Distinguishing between the different citizenship traditions of liberal-individualism and civic-republicanism, we analyze the interplay between generic technological tools and the divergent historical legacies of citizenship in Turkey and Britain. Based on our analysis of governmental portals, main e-government applications, and censorship and surveillance practices, we argue that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) serve the states' interests by enabling increased surveillance capabilities, more efficient bureaucracy, better border controls and criminal investigations. In both countries, citizens benefit from electronic service-delivery applications primarily as consumers of public services, while their role as citizens are not particularly enhanced. Parallel to these convergence tendencies, we observe striking differences in the way electronic citizenship is practiced in these two countries, stemming from different traditions of citizenship as well as different levels of democracy consolidation. Despite some of the transformative power of the ICTs, their use is largely shaped by the existing understandings of citizenship in both countries.