ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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The Information Deficit: Use of Media in a Deliberative Democracy

This study of more than 40 gram sabha proceedings in West Bengal finds that villagers use information on people's entitlements to challenge local governments. The media is a significant source of information: out of 27 meetings in which villagers speak up, the media is cited in nine. But the "thinness" of information on entitlements in the media makes it easy for gram panchayat members to refute legitimate claims. The information deficit in the public sphere, arising from media apathy and political collusion, translates into inability of the poor to assess local governments. While the role of the media in strengthening the functioning of electoral democracy is acknowledged, media indifference to deliberative democracy limits poor people's capacity to translate immediate demands for goods and services to aspirations for a good life.

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