Smith C & Webster CWR (2007) The Emergent ICT Culture of Parliamentarians: The Case of the Scottish Parliament. European Group of Public Administration Annual Conference Study Group on eGovernment: Information and Communications Technologies in Public Administration, Madrid, Spain, 19-22 September 2007, Madrid, Spain, 19.09.2007-22.09.2007. http://researchrepository.napier.ac.uk/view/people/Smith=3AColin_F=3A=3A.default.html
Technologies such as the web and email have been seen to offer new capabilities through which traditional representative arrangements can be reinvigorated and renewed. This paper explores the ways in which information and communications technologies (ICTs) have become embedded within the cultural norms and activities of parliamentarians, by examining the experience of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). At the heart of the paper is a discussion of new research data which provides empirical evidence of a significant technological orientation, and an emergent ICT culture that is the outcome of the intertwined relationship between the adoption and use of new communications technologies by parliamentarians, and the established norms and procedures of parliamentary activity. Although there is a body of work which explores the development of the web for parliamentarians and parliaments, this paper avoids the limitations of methodologies based upon an analysis of the characteristics of websites in favour of a grounded approach, focusing on actual uptake and use of a wide range of communications technologies by MSPs, as reported in survey findings. Utilising longitudinal empirical data, the paper sets out to establish how new communications technologies have been approached by MSPs. It explores the extent to which they regard ICTs as having utility for a wide range of their functions as parliamentarians, party actors and representatives, and demonstrates the extent to which new technologies underpin key communications relationships with other actors in the polity. In so doing, it seeks to illustrate that ICTs, rather that having a deterministic ‘impact' on practice, have been utilised in specific ways reflecting both parliamentary ‘norms' and an appreciation of the distinctive capabilities that they offer. As such, it is evident that there is an emergent ICT culture which is expressed in the working lives and activities of Scottish parliamentarians. Data on uptake and use is further contextualised through an exploration of MSPs' attitudes towards the democratic potential of ICTs, providing further evidence of the emerging technological orientation amongst Scottish parliamentarians.