The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Logan: The Internet and Political Stability In Fragile States

Paper presenter: 
Logan, S., Department of International Relations College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University Canberra

This paper analyses the potential impact of Internet access on the practice of politics in fragile states. It argues that such access has the potential to affect both positively and negatively the political features which define fragile states in the eyes of international donors and policymakers. The paper begins by outlining the concept of fragile states and the realities of Internet access in those states. It points out that policymaking in fragile states is largely pre-emptive, and so the impact of Internet access on fragile states should be taken into account when designing early-warning systems and interventions, rather than as a policy prescription itself. It then argues for Papua New Guinea (PNG) as a case study of Internet access in a fragile state. The paper goes on to discuss three political features common to most fragile states and the potential affect of Internet access on each of these features: criminalisation and delegitimisation of the state; the rise of factionalised elites; and the intervention of other political actors. Finally, the paper outlines the underlying research gap relating to this issue, namely the absence of research on the impact of the Internet on political practice in non-Western democracies.

Sarah Logan