Last modified on January 30, 2014, at 20:20

An Aesthetic for Deliberating Online: Thinking Through “Universal Pragmatics” and “Dialogism” with Reference to Wikipedia

Publication (help)
An Aesthetic for Deliberating Online: Thinking Through “Universal Pragmatics” and “Dialogism” with Reference to Wikipedia
Authors: Nicholas Cimini, Jennifer Burr [edit item]
Citation: The Information Society: An International Journal 28 (3): 151-160. 2012 May 11.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
Database(s):
DOI: 10.1080/01972243.2012.669448.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
Link(s): Paper link
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An Aesthetic for Deliberating Online: Thinking Through “Universal Pragmatics” and “Dialogism” with Reference to Wikipedia is a publication by Nicholas Cimini, Jennifer Burr.


[edit] Abstract

In this article we examine contributions to Wikipedia through the prism of two divergent critical theorists: Jürgen Habermas and Mikhail Bakhtin. We show that, in slightly dissimilar ways, these theorists came to consider an “aesthetic for democracy” (Hirschkop 1999) or template for deliberative relationships that privileges relatively free and unconstrained dialogue to which every speaker has equal access and without authoritative closure. We employ Habermas's theory of “universal pragmatics” and Bakhtin's “dialogism” for analyses of contributions on Wikipedia for its entry on stem cells and transhumanism and show that the decision to embrace either unified or pluralistic forms of deliberation is an empirical matter to be judged in sociohistorical context, as opposed to what normative theories insist on. We conclude by stressing the need to be attuned to the complexity and ambiguity of deliberative relations online.

[edit] Research questions

"In this article we examine contributions to Wikipedia through the prism of two divergent critical theorists: Jürgen Habermas and Mikhail Bakhtin."

Research details

Topics: Epistemology, Deliberative collaboration [edit item]
Domains: Philosophy and ethics, Rhetoric, Health, Information systems [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Case [edit item]
Theories: "We employ Habermas's theory of “universal pragmatics” and Bakhtin's “dialogism” for analyses of contributions on Wikipedia for its entry on stem cells and transhumanism and show that the decision to embrace either unified or pluralistic forms of deliberation is an empirical matter to be judged in sociohistorical context, as opposed to what normative theories insist on." [edit item]
Research design: Content analysis, Historical analysis [edit item]
Data source: Wikipedia pages [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Longitudinal [edit item]
Unit of analysis: Edit, Subject, User [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Dump [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: Article, Article:talk, Policy, Discussion and Q&A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: English [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"First, we argue that the theories of Bakhtin and Habermas give us a sophisticated and politically engaged theoretic vocabulary that allows us to think through argumentation and persuasion online. However, our normative thinking about the Internet, and its perceived emancipatory potential, must be firmly embedded in the study of existing debate. To judge the emancipatory potential of the Internet and, indeed, the potential for agreement on issues of public life, it is necessary to study actual debate and discussion over a sustained period of time. Second, we show that, revised and supplemented, with specific reference to empirical investigation, elements of both Bakhtinian and Habermasian theory provide powerful tools for understanding debate and discussion online. From these thinkers we take a view of language use not only as vehicles for communicating beliefs and ideas, but also as intimately connected to political struggles, in that language reflects and impacts on particular contexts. In addition, we take a view of linguistic meaning and knowledge, both in virtual communities and in the “real world,” as socially constructed and shaped through interaction—rather than straightforwardly dictated from above, inherently conflictual and fated to disagree, or imposed by a will to power. Therefore, it seems at least theoretically possible that disparate social groups could reach a genuine consensus on issues of public life, and it is not the case that typically subjugated voices are bound to their positions of subservience. The potential for agreement despite social difference can be seen, for example, in the earlier discussion, in the albeit fleeting and transitory moments of consensus reached on the topics of stem cells and transhumanism. Third, our analysis shows that critical thinking on the Internet should be open to the complexity and ambiguity of deliberative relations and the often “irrational” ways in which the “truth” or socially meaningful knowledge emerges in online environments."

[edit] Comments


Further notes[edit]