Communication Technology


208 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-1182-X
DDC 321.8'0971





Reviewed by Paul G. Thomas

Paul G. Thomas is the Duff Roblin Professor of Government at the
University of Manitoba, the author of Parliamentary Reform Through
Political Parties, and the co-author of Canadian Public Administration:
Problematical Perspectives.


This latest volume in the Canadian Democratic Audit series provides a
rare and valuable examination of the interaction of changing information
and communications technologies (ICTs), the responses of governments in
terms of public policy, the politics of policy-making, and the overall
impacts on democratic citizenship in Canada. The book also gives us both
a historical and contemporary analysis of how the media, including the
Internet, have shaped our public lives. Barney is not a technological
determinist. He argues that how the media is controlled and utilized
reflects the distribution of political power, which in turn impacts
communications policy-making.

In recent decades, the policy process involving ICTs has become less
open to citizen influence due to deregulation and the growing importance
of sprawling corporate media empires. Past uses of communications
technologies to foster Canadian identity and to support domestic
industries have been challenged by globalization and by trade deals
within North America. Within the political process, the uses of ICTs by
governments, political parties, advocacy groups, and citizens are
discussed. To a large extent the democratic potential of the
technologies, especially that of the Internet, has not been realized,
although social movements have made creative use of ICTs to mobilize
their followers. There are several types of “digital divides” in
Canada that reflect the fact that power in relation to ICTs is unevenly
distributed and that marginal groups have trouble accessing and
utilizing the technology. Each of the book’s six chapters contains a
summary, and the book closes with questions for discussion—two
features that will be helpful to both teachers and students, the
principal intended readers.


Barney, Darin., “Communication Technology,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed March 3, 2024,