Rerouting networks: promise and impediment in virtual social capital models
It would be inaccurate to suggest that the societal amalgam created when democracy and media combine is something novel, or for that matter that it has ever truly been novel. Democracy and civil life, as the modem conceptualizations of those notions are typically understood, are bound to the idea that there exists not merely the functional devices of citizenry actively participating in the selection and implementation of governing, but that there also be a formidable, effective and widespread medium of one sort or another - or more than one - present. A product of society and culture, democracy cannot feasibly exist on an individual level, but only in a community and community, in tum, must be tethered together by commonly shared communicative threads (Van Benschoten 2000). Democracy, theoretically understood as it is based on the notion of citizens making informed decisions and choices about which manner and by which policies they themselves wish to be governed, must therefore thrive only on a framework which includes the allowance for a technology which provides for the effective dissemination of ideas to the citizens. In any other model, democracy would necessarily be undermined. There would exist a gap in the education in the abilities of different citizens to participate: those democrats fortunate enough to live in proximity to the major population centers, particularly those with real political relevance, would be more likely to directly have access to information about politicians and candidates, while citizens distanced from political centres by geographic barriers (agricultural workers would obviously be a predominant segment of just such a group) would similarly be distanced from the political process, bereft of any reliable means with which to equip themselves with the information they arguably need to make the educated electoral choices that are critical to the process of civic membership. This is particularly true, not only as it pertains to electing representatives - in which case candidates can often originate within regional proximity to voters, as is the case with Canadian members of parliament, and therefore will campaign regionally -- but additionally it is vital that citizens are kept abreast of the issues of the day and the performance of their elected officials once they are given power. Governmental responsibility is, if not a direct function of citizen proximity, then necessarily a function of citizen access to reliable channels of mass communication.