States and conflicting groups must get together at some point and engage in communication in an effort at conflict resolution. This paper examines the relationship between the Internet, deliberative discourse, and ethnopolitical groups in conflict. It focuses briefly on the public sphere but with specific reference to its role in democratic discourse in the online environment. It makes the argument that the online environment is uniquely capable of both constructing new and novel public spheres while at the same time establishing conditions of communicative contact conducive to conflict resolution. The Internet public sphere is particularly strong with respect to fostering new points of contact that are free from the constraints of society systems. Deliberative democratic theory can be adapted to the context of ethnopolitical conflict and Internet technology to open up new communicative spaces for problem solving. These new spaces can create a more diverse conversational environment, encourage a task orientation, and improve democratic discussion by creating argument-based conversations that are not as polarizing. Online communities are posed as contexts for reorganizing discourse in such a way as to increase the mutual obligation and interdependence that is central to the intersection of democracy and conflict resolution.



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