Students of humanities and social sciences and e-democracy

Date08 May 2017
Published date08 May 2017
AuthorKornelija Petr Balog,Boris Badurina
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library & information services
Students of humanities and social
sciences and e-democracy
Kornelija Petr Balog and Boris Badurina
Faculty of Philosophy, Sveuciliste Josipa Jurja Strossmayera, Osijek, Croatia
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to nd out whether the students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social
Sciences (FHSS) in Osijek, Croatia, interact online with any sort of e-democracy or e-government information.
Design/methodology/approach This paper presents the ndings of a pilot-study conducted among
the undergraduate and graduate students of the FHSS in Osijek. The research was conducted in May 2015 on
a sample of 246 students. The research was carried out by means of an online and paper survey and reached
59.91 per cent of the population of students enrolled in the rst year of undergraduate and graduate studies.
Findings Students in our sample spend a lot of time online. They are relatively active online when it comes
to nding information connected with their academic responsibilities (e.g. 77.2 per cent of the students of the
sample have gone online for nding information about exams, scholarships, etc.), but rarely engage in
democratic processes within the academic community (only 11.8 per cent have contacted their student
representative on the University Student Board). They are even less interested in democratic processes within
the local community (8.1 per cent have contacted their local authority representatives regarding an
administrative or communal matter).
Originality/value This is the rst research of FHSS students’ perceptions and views regarding their
engagement and their information behavior regarding e-democracy and e-government processes and one of
the very few such researches in Croatia.
Keywords E-democracy, Academic libraries, E-government, Informed citizens,
Students of humanities and social sciences
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
E-democracy has become a vital part of today’s information society. It involves the usage of
information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance democratic structures and
processes (Coleman and Donald, 2005). E-democracy refers to all sectors of democracy, to all
democratic institutions and to all levels of government. However, one of the current problems
recognised by various documents is the problem of young people’s passive attitude toward
democratic processes. At the same time, the involvement of that very group of citizens is
becoming increasingly important to policy makers, with young people being, among other
things, the “voters of tomorrow” (MacIntosch et al., 2003).
One of the possible solutions to this problem is the potential of e-democracy to, through new
technology, attract young people to democracy, democratic institutions and democratic processes
(Councilof Europe, 2009). Many young people dislike adult politics because of its party structures,
style of debate and formality of communication. However, studies of how young people use media
(Livingstone and Bovill, 1999) show that they have a very broad media literacy and this should be
used in changing their level of engagement in democratic processes.
Colleges and universities often overlook academic libraries as venues for deliberative
democracy. Yet, many of those libraries put a lot of effort to promote civic literacy and ensure that
an informed citizenry ts well with the democratic practice (Cranich, 2010). The concept of the
“informed citizen” itself emphasises the importance of citizen access to information and has
become the cornerstone of the democratic vision (Pettinato, 2007). By ensuring that individuals
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 27 April 2017
Revised 5 June 2017
Accepted 5 June 2017
Informationand Learning Science
Vol.118 No. 5/6, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ILS-04-2017-0031

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