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Bowling Together: Online Public Engagement in Policy Deliberation, by S. Coleman and J. Gtze

Rosa Borge (

Professor of Law and Political Science Studies at the UOC


This review analyses a pioneering report on the instruments and strategies for the development of online political participation and deliberation, produced by Coleman and Gtze, two well-renowned specialists in e-democracy. It is a wellfounded study, both theoretically and empirically. The authors set out to analyse the technological possibilities offered by the internet to both overcome unidirectional models of representation and develop a model for participation based on deliberative tools. To do so, first, they reflect on the dangers and difficulties involved in citizen implication, in the wake of a number of renowned experts in democratic theory, confronting the reticence  often seen in the authorities and politicians. Subsequently, they examine and assess the different technologies for connection developed on the internet and which could be used for policy deliberation and, finally, they set out the different experiences with online participation and deliberation in the preparation of public policies seen in a number of countries. Though the authors show a wide-ranging knowledge of connection technologies, they fail to include a more systematic assessment and comparison of the online deliberative methods in existence. Indeed, the authors fail to take on the delicate question of evaluating the actual experiences and, thus, fail to clearly apply all the previous analytical development to these experiences.


online political participation, online political deliberation, e-democracy

Published in: September 2005

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