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6.2 Literature Review

As mentioned in the introduction, several studies have reported the gaps in MPs' use and access between subgroups of society. In a study conducted by Gibson et al. [17], Internet-based political participation is largely applicable to the welleducated and wealthy men, so far as the UK experience is concerned. The gap in digital divide certainly creates a gap in forming the “virtual communities” to gain information via technology and assesses the potential impact of civic networks, questioning the relationship between virtual communities and the revitalization of democracy [18]. Barber [6] in highlighting the concept of strong democracy and creation of active participation had warn of the use of technology in that it could diminish the sense of face-to-face confrontation and increase the danger of elite manipulation. Consequently, there is an argument that politicians and bureaucrats find e-democracy disruptive, and they do not want to make use of untried methods [19]. Previous studies of Swedish parliamentarians and ICT usage revealed that there has been little interest to link new forms of digital participation at the individual level with actual political structures and to define specific policies of institutional reform [20]. In another study on ICT, usage among Swedish parliamentarians highlighted tensions affecting the institutional context (institutional dimension) since there are clearly internal divisions with parliamentary authorities on their role in providing ICT facilities. In other words, there is a tension between the “political opportunities of ICT usage and the practical delivery of ICT facilities” [4]. In another study on the use of ICT among UK's MPs, Norton [15] found the more rebellious the MP, the less likely they are to have a personal website, which means that rebelling MPs tend to be less interested in the use of blogging compared with the party loyalties. This somewhat concurs with the study by Leston-Bandeira [21] as well as Lindh and Miles [4] that the Internet can affect the relationship between individual parliamentarians and their party organization. When individual MPs are “empowered” through the use of the Internet, this could lead to internal party restructuring and reduced organizational hierarchy to accommodate the wish or aspirations of the party loyalist among the MPs. What MPs get through an everwidening range of technological platforms such as the website, e-mail, and Twitter or blogging is too huge to be ignored by the political parties.

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