Anticipating the Unintended #74: (Internet+Politics) & India’s Transition To An Industrial Society

This newsletter is really a weekly public policy thought-letter. While excellent newsletters on specific themes within public policy already exist, this thought-letter is about frameworks, mental models, and key ideas that will hopefully help you think about any public policy problem in imaginative ways. It seeks to answer just one question: how do I think about a particular public policy problem/solution?

A Framework a Week: Internet + Politics

Tools for thinking public policy

— Pranay Kotasthane

Many predictions about the internet transforming politics have fallen flat. So, how about a framework that can help us understand the many facets of this interaction? I came across one such framework from 2013 — Six Models for the Internet + Politics by Archon Fung et al.

The paper first presents a stylised political model:

(Source: Six Models for the Internet + Politics by Archon Fung et al.)

The authors describe this model as follows:

“The model is a simple conveyor belt image of politics. The belt begins with citizens who have interests and views about politics, policies, and politicians. Citizens form into interest groups and social movement organizations—sometimes called pressure groups—that advocate for specific interests and policies. Once born, these groups reciprocally recruit and mobilize citizens to advocate more powerfully. At the same time, citizens form and express their views in the public sphere in which they discuss public concerns with one another in coffee shops, op-ed pages, water coolers, and town squares (and of course increasingly on the Internet). These traditional organizations and the public sphere are located outside of government. In a democratic society, however, they determine the personnel and content of government. Through the mechanisms of elections, lobbying, and communicative pressure (of which the pressure of public opinion is one kind), they exert pressures that determine which politicians hold office. Between elections, traditional organizations, and public opinion also exert pressures on the public agencies that compose government. Government action is at the end of this conveyor belt. Government acts in one of two ways: by passing laws and policies, and by acting directly in the world through agency actions.”

Now by introducing the internet in six different points in this model, the authors develop six pathways in which the internet changes politics.

Read the full edition here.

Disclaimer: Views expressed on Anticipating the Unintended are those of the authors’ and do not represent Takshashila Institution’s recommendations.