Online Communities, Democratic Ideals, and the Digital Divide

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



We examine some pros and cons of online communities with respect to two main questions: (1) Do online communities promote democracy and democratic ideals? and (2) What are the implications of online communities for information justice and the digital divide? The first part of the chapter will examine online communities in general and will attempt to define what we mean by “community” and more precisely, “online communities.” It will then examine ways of building online communities, that is, what brings people together online. The second part of the chapter will look at the positive and negative contributions of online communities in light of democratic ideals and will address the issue of information justice and the digital divide. In examining these questions, we also consider the effects of the Internet for community life at both the local and global levels.


Chapter in Information Technology Ethics: Cultural Perspectives.

ISBN: 9781599043104