Inter-organizational digital divide: Civic groups' media strategies in the Trinity River Corridor Project Page: 4
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For example, new media and ICTs also allow citizens' groups to organize across vast
geographical distances and in real time. This can be seen most strikingly in studies of global and
transnational movements, in which ICTs have lowered many geographical, temporal, and
financial barriers to doing transnational projects (e.g., Castells, 1996; Cleaver, 1998; Van Aelst
and Walgrave, 2002; Cordoso and Neto, 2004; Russell, 2005; Hwang, et al., 2006). Civic groups
are also able to pool 'microcontributions' (Garrett, 2006) so as to compete for influence with
wealthy and powerful individuals and organizations. To summarize, ICTs appear to have the
potential to alter the flow of political information, to reduce the costs of conventional forms of
political participation, to create new forms of participation, and ultimately to contribute to a
democratizaion of participation in politics (Leizerov, 2000).
2.2. Organizational reinforcement
While the Internet may potentially democratize participation in politics, in practice it may also be
used in ways that reinforce barriers to participation . In one early survey of the literature,
Streck (1998) reviewed numerous studies that showed online citizens to be disproportionately
highly educated, young, well-paid, and male (e.g., Brants, et al., 1996; Franzen, 2000; Benson,
2009). Brants, et al. (1996) concluded that the profile of Internet users in Amsterdam supports
the existing socioeconomic structure of elite dominance, while Klein (1999) pointed out that
Internet communication requires money for equipment and monthly fees, as well as skills in
text-based communication (see Hargittai, 2008; Hargittai and Walejko, 2008). This inequality in
Internet skills and use may exacerbate class differences in political participation levels rather
than ameliorate them.
While ICTs and new media have been shown to lower barriers to participation in transnational
social movements, there have been relatively few studies of ICT use within more traditional local
movements. And there is almost no research that compares ICT use across different
organizations within a local organizational field or inter-organizational network, or that
examines how leaders of social movements and civic organizations make decisions about
investing resources in ICTs and new media versus in old media or in non-media strategies.
Without such research, it is difficult to put ICTs and new media in context - to determine
where, how, and why they influence democratic participation. Below we examine these issues
through a case study of a public debate surrounding the Trinity River Corridor Project, a major
public works project in downtown Dallas, Texas.
3. Background: The Trinity River Corridor Project
Depending on whom you ask, the project is either Dallas'
opportunity to reinvent itself as a 'world-class city' or an
example of the city's weakness for business-driven
policy and political bickering. Or both. (Dille, 2009)
Here’s what’s next.
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Ignatow, Gabriel & Schuett, Jessica Lynn. Inter-organizational digital divide: Civic groups' media strategies in the Trinity River Corridor Project, article, November 7, 2011; [Chicago, Illinois]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc78305/m1/4/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.