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Consumer, client or citizen? How Norwegian local governments domesticate website technology and configure their users

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Local governments' websites are important gateways for residents wishing to interact with public institutions online, and the establishment and development of such websites stand out among governmental initiatives to improve their performance. Drawing on domestication theory to apply a change-oriented perspective, the paper analyses how Norwegian local governments domesticate website technology to make websites and configure their users, based upon three empirical sources: a survey among information and communication technology managers in local governments, a quantitative mapping of the content of the websites of all 430 Norwegian local governments, and a qualitative in-depth content analysis of 10 websites. The findings show that domestication efforts vary a lot across local governments. However, all local governments engage in domestication. Further, we identify as potential domestication outcomes three ideal types of website assemblages: information, client, and citizen assemblages. They point towards three respective user configurations: information consumers, clients, and citizens. The information assemblage is the only one found in all websites. Finally, linking qualitative and quantitative methods is suggested as a way of advancing domestication studies.
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Keywords: domestication; e-democracy; e-government; local governments; websites

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Dragvoll, 7491, Trondheim, Norway

Publication date: July 3, 2015

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