This thesis investigates three major Web forums, namely the Spiegel Online Forum (SOF), Debattcentralen (DC) and The Guardian Unlimited Talk (GUT). Within the conceptual frameworks of Actor-Network Theory and Habermasian terminology, the investigation is informed by three separate research questions. The first and second take up Habermas’ strict criteria of the Ideal Speech Situation (ISS), and ask to what extent the given forums live up to its ideals. The third one concerns public opinion formation, and asks to what extent the strength of the better argument may transmit from Web forums to decision-making institutions of our societies (like parliaments and governments). Thus, the overall question unveils itself: To what extent, do Web forums in general, and the three selected forums in particular, support public debate that is free from coercion? Evidence suggests that Web forums do promote and facilitate democratic deliberation, although not entirely without being exposed to coercion.
Information Systems, IS, Information and Communication Technology, ICT, Computer Mediated Communication, CMC, Actor Network Theory, ANT, Deliberative Democracy, Discourse, Web Forums, Ideal Speech Situation, Habermas, Critical Theory, Philosophy, Political Science
Berdal, S. R. B. (2004) Public deliberation on the Web: A Habermasian inquiry into online discourse. Hovedfag Thesis. Dept. of Informatics, University of Oslo.