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In this Essay, we want to suggest two ways in which people's experience with the Internet may affect how they think politics ought to be organized, and to consider the consequences for the political aspirations of minority communities. First, the notion of "virtual communities” – that is, communities that affiliate along nongeographic lines – may provide new support for alternatives to traditional geographic districting practices. As Americans become more comfortable with the idea that people can belong to voluntarily created, overlapping, fluid, nongeographically defined communities, which may be as important as the physical communities in which they live, they may become more interested in election methods that recognize such communities. This possibility offers new political opportunities to minority voters, especially Asian Americans and Hispanics, as well as to nonracially defined minority groups. At the same time, however; the Internet may give added strength to the appeal of "unmediated expression" – that is, the ability of individuals to express their preferences directly, rather than through institutional filters. This may further fuel pressures for direct, rather than representative, democracy. This possibility poses new threats to minority rights, which are often better protected through a less purely majoritarian, less populist process.


Internet Law | Law | Law and Politics | Political Science