Book Review: Web 2.0 Technologies and Democratic Governance

By: Yassine EL BAHLOULI, MBA, IT Eng,
Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) – University of Regina

Book Review: Web 2.0 Technologies and Democratic Governance.
Political, Policy and Management Implications
Editors: Reddick, Christopher G., Aikins, Stephen K. (Eds.)


This Book, entitled Web 2.0 Technologies and Democratic Governance: Political, Policy and Management Implications, examines the adoption of Web 2.0 Technologies and social media and their impact in the public services and governance.

Methodologically, this book is a descriptive and discussion of a new phenomenon. Multiple examples and applications presented, in governmental context, to illustrate the role and the benefit of the social networking and the user-generated content in public organizations.

The chapters in this edited volume provide insights into how social media and related applications can be used to enhance the management of public service delivery, to enable online citizen-government interaction and participatory democracy, and to promote accountability.

The Book is organized into three parts:

  • Part I: Government Policy and Uses of Web 2.0 for Management of Service Delivery
  • Part II: Web 2.0 as Tools for Mobilization, Protests and Governance
  • Part III: Effects of Web 2.0 on Political Campaigns and Participatory Democracy

Part I describes the uses of Web 2.0 for public service delivery.

Indeed, the Chapter 2 (by Jaeger, Bertot, and Shilton) examines the role of Social Media in Framing Government—Citizen Web 2.0 Interactions. In the same way, Chapter 3 by Webb discusses the Best Practices for Microblogging, like Twitter, on the Government Issued Policies. In Chap. 4, Perez, Bolivar, and Hernandez give the example of the Spanish government as a relevant case for the transformation of the public service delivery from the Government 1.0 to Government 2.0. Likewise, In Chap. 5, Gardini, Mattei, and Orelli analyse the public service delivery transformation using Web 2.0 technologies in four European countries and highlight the difference of outcomes. In Chap. 6 Anthopoulos and Tougountzoglou examine the viability model for Digital Cities and how to improve the citizen engagement.
The second Part of this Volume examines Web 2.0 as a tool for mobilization, protests, and governance.

In fact, Chap. 7, by Agarwal, Lim, and Wigand, examine the online Collective Action and the Role of Social Media in Mobilizing Opinions plus a Case Study on Women’s Right-to-Drive Campaigns in Saudi Arabia. Besides, Chap. 8, by DeKool, details the importance of the web monitoring for strategic Issue Management in order to predict the reaction of citizens to a policy change. In Chap. 9 Veljkovic´, Bogdanovic´-Dinic´, and Stoimenov emphasize on the open government concept and Web 2.0 as a Technological Driver of Democratic, Transparent, and Participatory Government.
The Chap. 10, by Mascaro, Novak, and Goggins, provide a Comparative Framing and Social Network Analysis of the Coffee Party and Tea Party Patriots Groups on Facebook. The last Chapter of this part, Chap. 11, by Ahn, highlights the differences between the Web 2.0 and e-government.

The last part of this book examines the effects of Web 2.0 on political campaigns and participatory democracy.

Indeed, in Chap. 12 Towner explains the uses and effects of campaigns and elections in a Web 2.0 world and their Implications for Democracy. In Chap. 13 Effing, van Hillegersberg, and Huibers measure the effects of Social Media participation on political parties.

Criado, Martinez-Fuentes, and Silvan explain the utilization of Social Media for Political Campaigning and especially Twitter, through an interesting case from Spain, in Chap. 14. Otherwise, Chapter 15, by Sandoval-Almazan and Gil-Garcia, gives another case of Government–Citizen Interactions using Twitter in Mexico without an effective strategy. Moreover, in Chap. 16 Roy outlines the issue of secrecy and information control. Finally in Chap. 17, Papaloi, Staiou, and Gouscos emphasize on the connection of social media to the parliamentary websites and it impact on e-participation.

This interesting volume is a must read offering strategic insights into best practices and presents academics or government-related policy makers, with new and cost effective ways to engage the public and new horizons for developing theoretical and practical approaches to government-citizen online interaction

Bibliographic Information

Book Title: Web 2.0 Technologies and Democratic Governance

Book Subtitle: Political, Policy and Management Implications

Editors: Christopher G. Reddick, Stephen K. Aikins

Series Title: Public Administration and Information Technology

Volume: 1

Copyright: 2012

Publisher: Springer-Verlag New York


  1. Thanks for this review. This sounds really interesting and I am going to get a copy to review as I am in the midst of the turmoil that comes from sitting idle for tens of years. The world as we know/knew it is changing so quickly but Government needs to catch up and continue on improving accessibility in the IT realm without missing a beat, very difficult and expensive task.

    • Rachel, i just finished reading your Book review and it’s magically in the same way! innovation and Web 2.0 are indivisible and inseparable!

  2. This sounds really interesting book and I really like the idea of public service delivery, to enable online citizen-government interaction and participatory democracy, and to promote accountability. I think this can bring a good change in the society. Right now there is no communication between government and public.
    But my comment on this topic would be that do you really think that this online interaction between government and citizen will actually work ?. I mean I know there will be technology involved in this but I am sure there will be loop holes which might bring more problems. May be I am wrong but just trying to think cons of technology.

    • Sure Isha! the given examples in the book are giving differences in outcomes between country to other! Technology is important but not sufficient as we need people and well written procedures!
      Otherwise, from my experience, Technology is effectively needs the right inputs while you seek for the right Delivery!

  3. Yassine: Amazing work and really interesting book review. It sounds like an amazing book, I would like to discuss further on this topic. It’s really interesting!

  4. Great book review Yassine. Indeed 2.0 web technologies has transformed corporate, commercial and political landscape. Its amazing that with the advancement of ICTs, governance has revolutionized in industrially advanced countries by offering more efficient public services and in a cost effective manner. I would say e-governance is such a smart idea that through connected style of democracy and using collaborative citizen approaches it can help solve complex social problems by using their expertise and in bringing social change.

    • Thank you Javeria! The civic engagement, in other words the citizen participation is the must solution to anticipate and monitor the future policies! Democracy is transparency but particpation and share of responsibilities also!

  5. Hi Yassine! Thanks for the review.

    Do you think platforms like those described in the book could lend themselves to open policy formation? Kind of like wiki where people collectively write policies or legislation? Alberta tried something like this in 2012 called the Social Policy Framework. While this exercise encouraged some changes, it did not have the reach expected by its developers.

    Thanks again for the review!


    • Hi Brittney! You are Welcome! very relevant question! Open Policy formation is an advanced stage and more liberal that we can imagine! it’s on the limit of Zero Government. I believe on participative Democracy, the interactive one with the strategic monitoring! it’s very important to have common definitions: Open Government, E-gov, Open Policy, Open Data…Etc all these names mean nothing when we are in lack of one of the 3 pillars: Technology, People and Procedures! We have successful examples as we have failed stories

  6. Hi Yassine,

    This review is very complete. Yassine, i would like to now, according to your read, your point of view about participatory democracy movements like the Spanish “Podemos” or the french “Nuits debouts”. I want to now more how they get involved people and spread their ideas quickly ? and how they maintain a high rate of people engagement during many weeks?

    Thank you for again for this review.


    • Thank you Salim for your interest and especially for this interesting example! Of course the new movements post Arab spring are using and “best” using social Media and Web 2.0 tools! otherwise, the content is important too! surfing on the circumstances is easy with internet, sharing your thoughts… from my point of view i think that Podemos and other movements created through the Web have to work more on the product to deliver to citizens! After the Spring, there is the Summer, but the Fall and Winter will not miss the turn!

  7. Yassine: I believe that technology has a very high importance in Governance. For an example, it was facebook that fueled the “Arab Springs” that ended up the rule of Gaddafi.

    About Government and Citizen online interactions, most of the government have a portal where citizens can communicate online. I think that this concept will change the governance in the new era.

    Amazing review, excellent work and thanks for sharing !

    • For Sure Sam! and also the emergence of non conventional movements in Europe and US! Podemos in Spain and Siriza in Greece are the mascots of this new wave!

  8. Thank you for your thorough review of an important topic. The notion of Open Government that is responsive and accountable to the people in ‘real time’ has the capacity to transform the relationship between the government and the governed. Your review provided a detailed description of the books contents, and major themes. I would like to have read how you view the role of Web 2.0, and if you see any downside? Well done Yassine you chose an important and timely topic and did well to carefully articulate the authors vision for the future of governance in the shadow of Web 2.0.

    • Kevin thank you for the comment! Technology can be useless without the other 2 pillars right people and right procedures! Many success stories and fails can be presented. But i believe that accountability, transparency and monitoring are irreversible with technology!

  9. Fantastic review Yassine! Nowadays, the technology and socio media are having a huge impact not only into the public services and governance but also into the private sector and people’s lives. Learning the tools is becoming a ~must thing~ to whoever is called to play a role in our modern society.
    There is someone who enriched me earlier today with a good comment and I think you may need the same comment to make your review more perfect. This person said that a great book review influences readers. This requires that the reviewer personalizes the book instead of giving all the facts about the book. This is what “WOWS” a reader pushing him/her to search and read the book. I appreciated this comment and think you may need it as well for your review…

  10. Nice review. I think technology should be introduced into the government system. But what do you think will be the role of the babyboomers been that alot of them might not really have interest in technology?

    • Kachi thank you! your question is very special and putting finger on a very important point! Technology aims to make it easy for the citizen including babyboomers and persons with disabilities…for sure we have to make more efforts but the minimum is available actually!

  11. The word government seems to include both the political class and the Administration, was their any separation of these two groups within this book.

    It seems to me the Web 2.0 technologies are going to be much more impactful on the political class as they can now directly communicate with the public and the politicians can use the technology to get a better grasp of the immediate interests of the populace. But as a bureaucrat your job is do what the minister tells you to do. You have a lot less ability to directly respond to the needs of the people.

    • Thank you Steven! in the 3 parts of the Book, the writers emphasized more on the political level! communication, campaigning, elections, decision making, monitoring and as you said the Web 2.0 technologies are more impactful on the political class! Great

  12. Thanks for this great review. This seems really interesting and I am also thinking about reading the book. And I agree that Government needs to catch up and continue on improving accessibility in the IT. Overall I like your work it was a pretty complicated book.

    • Thank you Ahmad!Accessibility is a must! universal fund experience is an interesting topic that we can discuss seen in different countries in particular Morocco!

  13. Yassine – this is a good summary of a very detailed and rich book, with your positive recommendation of it overall, but I was hoping to see a critical review – not necessarily the whole book because it’s an edited collection but perhaps one of the chapters.

    But let me ask a question: the rise of Donald Trump is ascribed by many to his use of Twitter as an unfiltered Web 2.0 platform. Is his candidacy a moment in time, or should we have a sense of foreboding that politicians like him will become more commonplace in future?

    • Thank you Justin! As you said the Book is an edited collection. I take note of your remark of course.

      For your question, I think that Technology is a double-edged sword!
      There are no boundaries on Twitter and it’s an unfiltered as we know. Trump has made it a larger part of his campaign than anyone has previously.

      Things can change in a blink of an eye on Twitter and it’s actually the case for Trump as many of his fellow politicians used it against him.
      (Audio from 2005 about women Scandal, MelaniaTrump plagiarism…).

  14. Excellent review Yassine! This book can be a handful tool to stimulate open government. And I agree that social media has a great influence on election campaign. For instance, I saw a video on Facebook yesterday that someone shows picture of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to his cat; the cat was calm when she saw Hillary but when she saw Trump she run away. Sometimes social media can play a negative role against a good candidate as well.

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