Interesting paper by Yuen Yuen Ang, Political Scientist at the University of Michigan:
Authoritarian states restrain online activism not only through repression and censorship, but also by indirectly weakening the ability of netizens to self-govern and constructively engage the state. I demonstrate this argument by comparing I-Paid-A-Bribe (IPAB) — a crowd-sourcing platform that collects anonymous reports of petty bribery — in India and China. Whereas IPAB originated and has thrived in India, a copycat effort in China fizzled out within months. Contrary to those who attribute China’s failed outcome to repression, I find that even before authorities shut down IPAB, the sites were already plagued by internal organizational problems that were comparatively absent in India. The study tempers expectations about the revolutionary effects of new media in mobilizing contention and checking corruption in the absence of a strong civil society.
The lecture is organized as follows. The next section will start by discussing the notion of accountability, followed by an introduction to the Downsian theory of electoral competition. This serves as a convenient departure point for classifying dierent sources of accountability failures in actual political systems. Subsequent sections deal with each of these in turn: limited voter participation and awareness; ideology, honesty and competence of political parties and electoral candidates; capture by elites; clientelism and vote-buying. Each section starts by explaining the relevant departure from the Downsian framework, and then reviews available empirical evidence in the Indian context for each of these possible distortions’,besides effects of related policy interventions. The final section summarizes the lessons learnt, and the fresh questions that they raise.