Since writing my post on the blogosphere and democracy I’ve been searching for good scholarly treatments of the topic and today I found an exceptionally interesting piece by Cass Sunstein titled, “Neither Hayek nor Habermas“. His arguments are quite consistent with the ones that I make in my post and reveal the need for a substantive and realistic assessment of the impact the blogosphere is having on democratic discourse.
“Neither Hayek nor Habermas”
Cass R. Sunstein
Public Choice (2008) 134: 87-95
“The rise of the blogosphere raises important questions about the elicitation and aggregation of information, and about democracy itself. Do blogs allow people to check information and correct errors? Can we understand the blogosphere as operating as a kind of marketplace for information along Hayekian terms? Or is it a vast public meeting of the kind that Jurgen Habermas describes? In this article, I argue that the blogosphere cannot be understood as a Hayekian means for gathering dispersed knowledge because it lacks any equivalent of the price system. I also argue that forces of polarization characterize the blogosphere as they do other social interactions, making it an unlikely venue for Habermasian deliberation, and perhaps leading to the creation of information cocoons. I conclude by briefly canvassing partial responses to the problem of polarization.”