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In this article we study the recent phenomenon of the individualized civic watch emerging on the Internet. 'Civic watch' from below allows people to monitor elites and organizations in order to make their actions more transparent, fair and accountable. The use of information and communication technologies increases the ability of people to publish information regarding the unethical behaviour or mishandling of governments, civil servants, public office holders, the police, etc. We study the individualized civic watch facilitated by computer-mediated communication in the frame of reflexive political action. Reflexive politics refers to politicized personal matters and it departs on the basis of individualized responsibility-taking. The Internet provides a cheap tool that empowers an individual and offers an opportunity to create personal news deliverance that influences mainstream news providers and the media. The individualized use of the Internet stresses the new forms of political activity that might cause the renaissance of personalized politicization. Through the Internet it is possible to offer 'official truth challenging' viewpoints on political campaigns and gain access to more personalized information than ever before, which may even reach a global audience. In regard to that we study individualized usage of the Internet. Such innovative forms of action are, for instance, Web blogging and multi-directional narrow-/broadcasting through YouTube.
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Keywords: YouTube; blogging; computer-mediated communication; individualized civic watch; public spheres; reflexive politics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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