Towards Zoomocracy – an Explorative Study on Virtual Democratic Decision Making in Swedish City Council Meetings in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Date
2022-01-04
Authors
Wihlborg, Elin
Carlsson, Fredrik
Blom, Agneta
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Abstract
Governmental decision making is essential to maintain democracy. The decision making formats and processes are institutionalized and follow strict formats for participation, debate and decisions. The constraints and lock-downs due to the covid-19 pandemic led to an extensive increase in the use of digital meeting tools to maintain democratic decision making through virtual meetings. Our main approach in this paper is to inductively explore the changes that occur when democratic meetings take place on-line through a quantitative text analysis and interviews. We delimit our focus to speech duration in recorded meetings. We find that the virtual meeting format changed meeting characteristics compared to on-site meetings. There were some changes in speech duration among councilors which has to be further investigated in a larger sample. The main contribution of this paper is the method to measure actual speech duration and compare how virtual meetings may influence the organization of democratic meetings.
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Emerging Topics in Digital Government, digital government, digital meetings, local democracy, zoomocracy
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