New Media and Democracy in Cambodia - Foundation Office Cambodia
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In 2010 the number of users of Facebook surpassed half a billion. The emergence of a new kind of public sphere - based on the Internet and new forms of social connectivity – is leading to an expansion of the democratic arena and a potential renewal of the relationship between politics and citizens. New technologies and the use of networks have provided tools for increased participation of the public in political life. Citizens have more opportunities to be informed, higher expectations to make their voice heard, and the possibility to organize themselves into groups and social movements, even as an alternative to established political parties. However, the expansion of opportunities to participate in the political process has coincided with a decline of trust in political institutions and a growing citizens’ disaffection from politics. Parliaments as institutions, political parties do not stand high in public esteem, though there are significant regional differences.
At the World e-Parliament Conference 2009 a number of MPs asked how it was that in this era of greater openness, transparency, and connectivity, so many citizens seemed more distrustful of public institutions and especially of parliaments.
What will be the lasting effect of social media on the political participation of citizens? Elections in western countries provide evidence that it can be an important and positive factor in campaigns. However, it is not clear how it will affect the engagement of citizens when the election is over and what role it will play in governance of the country. It seems obvious that social media can function as powerful marketing tools for some political actors, but is it also the case that these media can generally improve the possibilities for citizen participation in the political process? Which is the potential, and what are the limitations, of social media when it comes to promoting political participation in practice?
While some researchers claim that social media lead to increased participation, as well as to a decentralization of the power over the public sphere, others claim that these platforms lead to simplification or radicalization, and to politics that must to speak to the lowest common denominator.
The Department of Media and Communication (DMC) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Cambodia Office organise this half day workshop to engage young students from the Department and Media and Communication and other universities in a dialogue on the situation of current and potential role of Social Media in Cambodia to foster political and social participation.
The key objective of the workshop is to raise awareness of young students on the opportunities and potentials but also on the limits and of social Media to foster democratic governance and participation in Cambodia. The workshop is followed by a Reception to celebrate 10 years anniversary of DMC.