Digital democracy facing the challenge of social criticism in France

Users and creators of content
By Clément Mabi

This article argues that the “yellow vest” movement and the “Great National Debate” are a good laboratory for analysing the capacity of digital technology to provide tools for social criticism. It endeavours to capture changes in citizens’ critical expression in the digital context by placing the movement in a broader trend, that of the development of “digital democracy” in France, where the influence of technologies challenges the functioning of French democracy and the place occupied by citizens. In this context, we will see that the new forms of civic expression made possible by digital technology place pressure on democracy, whether representative or participatory, with a form of public democracy, where public opinion claims to establish a direct relationship between governments and the governed. What does this renewed weight of opinion do to the expression of social criticism? How can more institutional forms of participation succeed in offering a political outlet for critical expression when it finds alternative visibility spaces on the web?

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