METHODS & CONCEPTS: Democracy and Digital Dissonance: The Co-Occurrence of the Transformation of Political Culture and Communication Infrastructure
FREIE UNIVERSITY OF BERLIN, GERMANY
ABSTRACT: The aim of this essay is to discuss the state of democracy in Western Europe in the light of an essential change in public spheres towards more dissonance, disconnection, and noise. It is argued that this condition is the unintended consequence of the co-occurrence of two long-term changes in contemporary societies: political culture changes in liberal democracy and changes in communication infrastructures. The interaction of the disruption of democracy and digital communication has implications for public spheres as opportunity structures for democratic speech and institutions. The dynamics of dissonant public spheres have created a new disinformation order, pushing new political actors and communication modes to the fore. These conditions threaten established patterns of authoritative information flows and public debate, which puts contemporary
democracy under serious stress.