Democratizing Global Communication? Global Civil Society and the Campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society

Milton L. Mueller, Brenden N. Kuerbis, Christiane Pagé


This paper is a case study of the role of transnational advocacy networks (TANs) and multi-stakeholder governance processes in the formation of international communication-information policy. It analyzes the Campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS) during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The paper combines methods of historical institutionalism and empirical social network analysis. It documents the important role of the CRIS campaign in determining the norms and modalities of civil society participation in WSIS, and provides a critical assessment of the ideology of "communication rights." The SNA data reveal the centrality of CRIS affiliate Association for Progressive Communications in WSIS civil society and the paper explains that centrality in terms of its organizational capacity to link multiple issue networks. The paper also explores the strengths and weaknesses of multi-stakeholder governance as revealed by the attempts to institutionalize WSIS civil society.

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