Rethinking Political Legitimacy: Citizen Inclusion and Social Digital Media

In Chile, a mobilized, invigorated civil society is using new digital technologies to transform political participation.

Research will document how technology-enabled networks are transforming the ways in which political legitimacy and accountability are arrived at and understood.

Gone are the days when researchers, politicians, private sector actors, and citizens can ignore the impact of Internet-based communication technologies on decision-making. This project could contribute knowledge, from the perspective of a middle-income country, about how social media is helping to define societies and legitimize political actors (new and old).

The findings could benefit other Latin America countries where new social movements are emerging. The Chilean case may help to frame a broader discussion around democratic participation and political representation in the region.

The research goals include documenting how technology-enabled networks are transforming the way that political legitimacy and accountability are understood in Chile. This involves:
- documenting the practices that users of social media develop to influence the public sphere;
- documenting how Internet-based political discussions generate collective action whether in traditional forms (such as public demonstrations) or in digital forms (such as online activism or hacking); and
- assessing how important political actors (political elites, political parties, and mass communication media) perceive and respond to citizen-based actions generated by social media.

The research should also lead to the development of a model for citizen participation based on lessons learned. Results will be disseminated through publications, media, and meetings with academic, policy, and civil society stakeholders.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Thursday, November 17, 2011

End Date

Saturday, May 17, 2014


24 months

IDRC Officer

Ceballos, Florencio

Total funding

CA$ 317,600


Chile, South America, North and Central America


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Enzo Abbagliati


Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo

Institution Country


Institution Website