MA (Nagoya University), BA (University of Akureyri)
Thesis Topic: How have ICTs fostered the democratization process in Eastern Europe: Case studies of Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus
Supervisors: Associate Professor James Headley, Dr. Chris Rudd
The widespread adoption of ICTs has forever changed the way the societies function, giving us totally new opportunities to develop new and better solutions to the existing problems.
Until very recently, government ICT systems mainly focused on information diffusion and service provision, whereas today its increasingly applied as a tool to enhance and strengthen the democratic form of governance, thus enabling more participation, transparency, accountability and efficiency. This has resulted a wider discussion about the interplay between democracy and ICT. Does ICT-enabled digital participation help to bring about democratization? Does ICT-enabled digital participation help to revitalize democracy? Deriving from this, consolidated and unconsolidated democracies alike are increasingly tapping the potential of ICTs by setting up new ICT supported platforms for greater citizen involvement. While in the old democracies the ICT-enabled tools are incorporated into the government apparatus to find solutions to democratic deficits, such as growing political apathy, declining voter turnout and citizens’ disengagement from political life, in the non-consolidated democracies those tools have at least in some communities proven to be the drivers behind grassroots movements, leading to more democratic freedoms. Nevertheless, ICTs effect on democratization has remained a source of debate amongst scholars.
This study examines the effect the information and communications technologies (ICTs) have had on the democratization process in three Eastern Europe countries, namely Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus. By looking at the ICT-enabled citizen participation initiatives, it aims to examine whether and to which extent those tools have supported the countries’ steps towards democracy. Overall, this study hopes to contribute to the debate about the role that ICT plays in democratization processes.