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‘From weird to wired': MPs, the internet and representative politics in the UK

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Abstract:

Westminster MPs have regularly been criticised for their failure to take advantage of the democratic possibilities of the Internet, particularly in light of the continuing problems of engaging public interest in representative institutions. Yet, so far, there have been few studies of their online activities. This article examines the growth and function of UK MPs' websites and how far technology might facilitate changes in their constituency, party and parliament roles. The results indicate a significant growth over the past three years, although those with independent websites are still in a minority. It is also clear that personal factors (notably age), constituency factors, such as electoral marginality and the technological profile of the locality, as well as party factors all help explain patterns of MPs' activity online. For the most part, however, content analysis of sites reveals a rather static and cautious approach to web communication which represents a modernising rather than democratising strategy.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13572330500158276

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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