In search of online deliberation: Towards a new method for examining the quality of online discussions

Graham, T. & Witschge, T., 2003, In : Communications. The European Journal of Communication Research. 28, 2, p. 173-204 32 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Many advocates of deliberative democracy see in the Internet a new opportunity for the development of public spaces, public spheres, and places where deliberation can take place. An important element of the notion of the public sphere in general and of deliberation specifically, is the quality of the debate. In the past decade, many studies have been conducted to evaluate online discussions in light of the ideal notion of the public sphere. However, a wide gap exists between theoretical approaches and the actual operationalization of such theories for empirical research. In an attempt to bridge this gap we develop a method for examining the extent to which Internet forums meet the normative requirements of rational-critical debate, reciprocity, and reflexivity. The methodological approach consists of a textual analysis of the contributions made to an online forum. The coding scheme presented in this article is based on a case study (UK Online) and guided by the theoretical notions of deliberative democracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-204
Number of pages32
JournalCommunications. The European Journal of Communication Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Online Deliberation, Discussion Forum, Public Sphere, Deliberative Democracy, E-Democracy, Political Talk, United Kingdom, Content Analysis, E-participation, Habermas, Civic Engagement, CITIZEN PARTICIPATION, New Media and Democracy, Digital Politics, Digital Democracy, ONLINE ANALYSIS, DELIBERATION, INTERACTIVITY, RECIPROCITY, ARGUMENTATION, Political Communication, POLITICAL SCIENCE, Political Studies, Online Debate
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