Online Technology as a Pathway for Citizen Deliberation and Depolarization*

In: Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
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  • 1 University of Miami, Florida
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Human development rests largely on the ability for a society to avoid violent conflict. This article proposes, and presents results from, an online technology platform and a methodology, which can help depolarize sectors of society, with the specific application to the current divisive post-war landscape within Colombia. The platform is based on deliberative democracy, and is designed to enable citizens to discuss issues in small groups. It exploits Colombia’s high online connectivity to provide a safe, anonymous environment for expressing opinions related to both the government and the guerrillas. Preliminary findings suggest that the platform could aid bridge building among citizens, and it could be easily replicated in other situations globally. Given the polarization that seems to arise in technologically-enabled societies as a result of social media “bubbles,” the broader need for such a platform in local, regional, and national debates is particularly pressing.

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