Disconnected democracy? A study of Scottish ...

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Disconnected  democracy?     A  study  of     Scottish  Community  Councils’     online  communications        

Bruce  Martin  Ryan                 Submitted  in  partial  fulfilment  of  the  requirements  of   Edinburgh  Napier  University  for  the  Degree  of   Master  of  Science  in  Information  Systems  Development                 School  of  Computing   December  2013    

Bruce  Martin  Ryan  40070877   MSc  in  Information  Systems  Development,  2013  


Authorship  declaration   I,  Bruce  Martin  Ryan,  confirm  that  this  dissertation  and  the  work  presented  in  it  are   my  own  achievement.   Where   I   have   consulted   the   published   work   of   others   this   is   always   clearly   attributed.   Where  I  have  quoted  from  the  work  of  others  the  source  is  always  given.  With  the   exception  of  such  quotations  this  dissertation  is  entirely  my  own  work.   I  have  acknowledged  all  main  sources  of  help.   If   my   research   follows   on   from   previous   work   or   is   part   of   a   larger   collaborative   research  project  I  have  made  clear  exactly  what  was  done  by  others  and  what  I  have   contributed  myself.   I  have  read  and  understand  the  penalties  associated  with  Academic  Misconduct.   I  also  confirm  that  I  have  obtained  informed  consent  from  all  people  I  have  involved   in  the  work  in  this  dissertation  following  the  School's  ethical  guidelines     Signed:           Date:  2013_12_20     Matriculation  no:  40070877    


Bruce  Martin  Ryan  40070877   MSc  in  Information  Systems  Development,  2013  


Data  protection  declaration   Under  the  1998  Data  Protection  Act,  The  University  cannot  disclose  your  grade  to  an   unauthorised   person.   However,   other   students   benefit   from   studying   dissertations   that  have  their  grades  attached.     Please  sign  your  name  below  one  of  the  options  below  to  state  your  preference.     The  University  may  make  this  dissertation,  with  indicative  grade,  available  to  others.         The  University  may  make  this  dissertation  available  to  others,  but  the  grade  may  not   be  disclosed.         The  University  may  not  make  this  dissertation  available  to  others.        


Bruce  Martin  Ryan  40070877   MSc  in  Information  Systems  Development,  2013  


Abstract   In   Scotland,   Community   Councils   (CCs)   are   the   lowest   tier   of   government,   being   representative   bodies   for   small   portions   of   Local   Authority   areas   and   having   no   service-­‐delivery  duties.  They  have  a  number  of  issues.  For  example,  16%  of  potential   CCs   do   not   exist,   while   there   is   a   paucity   of   candidates   for   those   that   do   exist.   Despite  being  charged  with  ascertaining  and  expressing  their  communities’  opinions,   and   despite   other   tiers   of   UK   government   increasing   their   use   of   online   communications,  recent  research  has  shown  that  very  few  CC  effectively  use  online   techniques.  In  particular,  the  proportion  using  social  media  is  very  small.     This   project   investigated   the   motivations   behind   some   CCs’   use   and   non-­‐use   of   online   communication.   Semi-­‐structured   interviews   were   used   to   investigate   the   drivers  and  inhibitors  behind  some  CCs’  online  presences,  while  criteria  for  an  ‘ideal’   presence  were  generated  and  used  to  assess  actual  presences.  The  most  significant   drivers   and   inhibitors   found   were   cost   (specifically   reduced   information-­‐ dissemination   costs   but   also   increased   time-­‐costs),   increased   effectiveness/efficiency,   increased   visibility,   satisfaction   of   citizen   demand   and   the   age-­‐rel