THE ESST MA
Possible Social Impacts of E-Government
A case study of
Şadi Evren ŞEKER
I would like to thank to my supervisor Dr. Iştar Gözaydın, for opening a new window to the social sciences in my world during her lectures and her encouraging support during my studies.
I would also like to express my special gratitude to Prof. Dr. A. C. Cem Say, for leading me on research methodologies and academic life. The very precious thing that I have learned from him is the question for research which he always attempts to apply his theoretical knowledge into daily life while he searches for reality.
I would like to thank to
Table of Contents
APPENDIX IV 51
INQUIRY RESULTS 51
ANT Actor Network Theory
B2B Business to Business
DPT Devlet Planlama Teskilati (State Planning Organization)
HTML Hyper Text Markup Language
ICT Information and Communication Technologies
IT Information Technology
KIT Kamu Iktisadi Tesebbusleri (State Economic Enterprises)
NGO Non Governmental Organization
SCOT Social Constructivism of Technology
STS Science Technology and Society
Bilisim Dernegi, (Informatics Association Of
US United States
URL Unique Resource Locator
XML Extensible Markup Language
In recent days, e-government is a popular subject
By the help of theoretical modeling and results from inquiry we have searched the answers of following questions:
In fact these questions can be answered by deeply detailed and almost infinitive perspectives, but our purpose in this study is only limited by the perspectives of STS studies and Turkish case. At the best of our knowledge there was no such research exists during our studies.
Before commenting about e-government you can find some definitions of the e-government below:
“Digital government or –following the current technolinguistic conventions, e-government- can be defined as the civil and political conduct of government, including service provision, using information and communication technologies. “ , Ahmed(2001)
“eGovernment is the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the activities of public sector organizations.” , Heeks(2004)
“At its core, eGovernment is about the changing nature of relationships from hierarchical command and control, to an interactive collaboration between government and citizens, businesses, public sector employees, and other governments. It is about opening the doors to multi-channel interaction and service delivery. And it is about having centralized, yet distributed operations to maximize efficiencies, productivity, and service delivery.”, Mtwcorp(2004)
“The term (in all its uses) is generally agreed to derive from electronic which introduces the notion and practicalities of 'electronic technology' into the various dimensions and ramifications of government
The most frequent use of the term eGovernment (also spelled e-government as well as egovernment, Egovernment, E-government, E-Government, e-Gov, egov, EGOV, E-GOV and EGovernment and described as online government) is related to:
Definition of e-government may differ from author to author but their intersection is the digitization of governmental operations. This digitization may occur in two different domains.
The former domain may contain the communication and integrity of the different governmental entities on the other hand latter domain holds the whole exterior world.
The aim of e-government is the supply of technology for the governmental issues. Since governmental entities deal with whole population of the country there are always more and more jobs to handle in a reasonable time and with a reasonable cost. So governments should find a solution to increase the efficiency of their operations. On the other hand the necessity of electronic medium is based on the citizens, companies and foreign governments who switch to the electronic medium.
The question rises at this point is how much electronic is a government? A government may be publishing only static web pages to inform citizens or a government may carry its all operations on a fully automated electronic medium.
We will find an answer to the levels of electrification of a government in the following chapters, but like most of the similar technologies, by electrification of a conventional system we loose something while gaining others. This thesis study will try to uncover these unmentioned sacrifices.
Let’s try to understand e-government and its dimensions better.
In the following list we have tried to list all
possible dimensions of e-government. Most of the following items can be
categorized as an advantage or disadvantage from the perspective of government
or citizen, since we believe both of these perspectives have different desires.
Besides we have left these items with only small comments to ignite the
question marks of reader. The examples and discussions are selected from the
In fact, word “optimization” can have many meanings, we only use this word as the optimization in the decision phase of governmental operations. Moreover the word “optimization”, can be settled as the optimization of whole these parameters.
While preparing this thesis, I could not reach any formal study on the optimum security. The banks and companies operating in Turkey with more experience on the online transactions and Internet have never published such a document. Besides, there are lots of differences from application to application. In one of the Internet banking application, they advertise the amount of time you spend to make a simple operation, while another advertises the number of security questions. So this shows a disagreement on the level of security. I think a study on the forbearance of Turkish society and required level of security in the Internet operations is something needed before the implementation of e-government.
Figure 1 Eye diseases related to computers, Kahn (200)
By the light of above, government offices should continue human to human interaction (on the other hand we have citizens with disabilities) and in the education system, citizens should be became conscious about the healthy usage of computers.
"XML would be a key solution of any segment of e-government we go with," said Mayi Canales, deputy chief information officer at the Treasury Department and an e-government portfolio coordinator at the CIO Council.
"I think you're going to find a little bit of XML in all of the initiatives," said Lew Sanford, e-government program manager for the General Services Administration. "This is what it was designed to do."
In several reports, it is underlined
that any government wants to implement a healthy e-government application,
should declare XML schema open to the whole world TBD(2004). Besides the
applications running over XML,
I have quoted these two examples
because of their extreme similarities to the e-government. First, e-government
is only accessible from the internet and we should raise the question how many
of the Turkish citizens does have an internet access? By the end of 2001, the
internet access ration of population in
Second example fits the inner society of e-government. It is almost as same as the social structure of nuclear reactor or atom bomb. Fortunately we do not have any difficulties to adapt e-government to our social and governmental society, because this authoritarian structure is already acquiesced by the Turkish citizens group. It is obvious that there is an authoritarian structure in the government and most of the people hope an increase of treatment from the e-government applications. The do believe that at least the necessary time period will decrease.
So by the examples of Winner, we can
say that there are politics behind the artifacts moreover we can mirror these
examples to Turkish case and conclude the political effects in e-government.
The tragedy part of these political effects is the import of these
technologies. We are not aware of political inheritances kept inside those
technologies. For example in the URL addresses
it is not possible to use any Turkish character. For example it is not possible
to access the web site of prime ministry of
Another critique may be the resources
Above critiques leaves a question mark
on how appropriate is the e-government for
In a simple analyze of social structure against the monopolization, we face the tragedy of social awareness to the disadvantages of monopoly. This may be a result of KITs (State Economic Enterprises), which are enterprise level organizations founded and operated by the government and most of them were monopoly just before the privatization in Turkey. This social condition ness of years creates a suitable environment for the monopolization in Turkish society. For example the usage of Microsoft products has a monopoly in the Turkish market. At the best of my knowledge, most of the “developed” countries have alternative software encouraged by the governments.
In the case of
Just before starting the application of actor
network theory (ANT) over Turkish e-government, let me quote a brief definition
“Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is an interdisciplinary approach to the social sciences and technology studies, and closely relates to research in terms of complexity and locality, activity theory, the sociology of knowledge and systems theory.”
Since the details and discussions of ANT is out of scope for this thesis, I just want to comment some key features of ANT related to our case study.
First of all ANT fills a big gap between technological and social networks, which both has some weaknesses and strengths. ANT is neither social network nor technical network but it is their both combination and intersection. Technological networks are mostly built over non-human entities, such as databases, computers, machine parts etc. which do not cover any social or cultural entity and social networks are also lack of those non-human entities. Callon, who first collects those two different actors in the same network, names the collection of networks as convergence and identifies this convergence as a translation of actors to the networks. Since this translation has moments (the inevitable results, natural connections between actors etc.), Callon defines four moments: Problemetisation, Interessement, Enrolment and Mobilization. The key issues of ANT is summarized below, (Sidorova(2000)):
Any element which bends space around itself,
A heterogeneous network of aligned interests. Callon, M. and B. Latour(1981)
The creation of an actor-network. This process consists
The first moment of translation during which a
The obligatory passage point, broadly referring
to a situation
The second moment of translation which involves a
The moment that another actor accepts the
interests defined by
Let’s start the application of ANT over Turkish e-government by defining the actors. By definition, actors may be human or non-human entities and their distinction is their centric roles.
Just before listing the actors let me notice that,
in world every thing is connected to everything else. On the other hand in real
world every thing is continuous, and it is impossible to get discrete samples
from the real world. What we try to do is underline the major players of
Figure 2 Information society Strategy from State Planning Organization (DPT)
In figure 3 the skeleton of actor network is represented. There are 4 main groups as listed above and each group has its own entities. The communication between entities may be inside the groups or outside the group. As you can easily notice, service provider entity in the e-government group has most of the connections.
I think, one of the biggest weaknesses of ANT is
the power relation of the entities. In the network almost all of the
connections have a different kind of specialty. For example the closest
relations between “end user of citizens group <-> service provider of
government group” and “end user of foreign users group <-> service
provider of government group” has lots of differences, moreover the power of
connection may differ from country to country related to the relations between
two countries. Unfortunately we are lack of enough tools to display these relation
First of all major role of our inquiry is to find
out the connection between two most important actors the citizen group and the government
group. The outcome shows us that in
Unfortunately, we can not clearly define the level
of problemetization, interessement or enrollment of e-government technology in
“In public organizations, by settling the maximum information and communication Technologies, e-government applications will be speeded.”
So we can summarize that, both technology and the social request of technology is imported from foreign countries.
This import has ignited a problemitization phase in
“The E-Europe+ Action Plan is the roadmap for information society
designed specifically for acceding and candidate countries. It was launched at
the Göteburg European summit in 2001 to enable them to catch-up with the 15 EU
Member States that had already embarked on a programme of their own. A
ministerial conference in
So as merely declared above,
We can emphasize the typical view of
“Developed/Underdeveloped” country relation in e-government applications. As a
source of technology, Developed countries interessements and the game end up
with the enrollment of Underdeveloped countries. So question raised at the
point is “How much does
Let’s turn back to our poll. The biggest percent of answers on 9th  question is “Behind the Developed Countries”. This answer gives key information about the subconscious of people, which is a strong proof of our claim.
So a methodical schema of ANT to e-government in
Problem: E-Government in
Domain: All Governmental operations in
Technological Black box: Internet Technologies
Intersection: Governmental operations in
Problematisation: How can we do all governmental operations better, via the Internet?
Clients: Citizens, Foreign and local Commercial Entities
Actors: Government, Citizens, Commercial Entities, Foreign Entities, Universities and Social Organizations, Service Providers
Transformation: Shift from Conventional to Electronic Government
Worldview: There are four levels of e-government applications, higher level higher satisfaction on clients Windley(2002):
Lists of departments
Links to separate
Access primarily via
No site reporting,
tracking or analysis
Online forms for
or service via email
Respond to online
Limited online help,
Basic account inquiry
Automated RFP and
sharing of information
Common platform for
tracking to ensure
HR (benefits, career
Table 1 four levels of e-government
Owner(s): Government, Citizens
Environment: Governmental offices, (ministries, municipality, tax offices, police etc.)
If there is systems approach in any actors of network, the whole network can be considered as under effect of systems approach. Fist let’s consider the reshaping or reconfiguration of e-government and its social impacts.
First of all reshaping or reconfiguration of any large technological system directly shapes our daily lives. As a citizen we have rights and duties against the government and reshaping the way we do our duties, effect our daily lives. In fact, being a citizen is being a part of large technological system, if we consider the taxes, roads, bridges, security systems, army or any other governmental issue. From the perspective of systems approach we should question the isolation of those systems. For example, how much the frequency assignment to radio stations is isolated from our daily life, or how much do we aware of agricultural technology support. The isolation level may be different from technology to technology. On the other hand there are some black boxed components in electronic government.
From the perspective of isolation, e-government may yield two counter results. First, e-government makes the governmental issues transparent, easily understandable. The counter result is the effect of computerization and foreign technology settlement.
Former result can be considered as an advantage of e-government, since governmental operations can be tracked by the computers on our homes, makes these issues more easy and understandable. Any citizen can immediately get answers to any questions about the governmental issues. For example we do not need to go anywhere or wait in the queues to ask a simple question anymore. This yields an increased level of participation to the government, which can be considered as a large technological system.
Latter result can be considered as a disadvantage of e-government. Computerization makes every thing a nightmare for some of the users. For example some clients especially the older clients, still goes to banks while they may easily do their banking operations from internet banking. E-government would be an isolated system for such clients. On the other hand there is a level of foreign technology settlement in e-government which is again a source of isolation.
Again from the perspective of systems approach,
there are the seamless webs in e-government. For example, how do we decide, do
we decide by technical necessities or do we decide by social necessities? Does
our use of technology shapes our governance or our governances shape our use of
technology? So there are some power relations between these two main entities
which is impossible to show in actor network theory. We should not forget that,
technology has limits. And we should question, what should we do, if something
is necessary for our social, governmental, cultural structure and impossible
for our technological structure, should we insist of electronic version of
those issues or should we leave them to conventional ways. (There will be
examples of such problems on
Another important issue about the reconfiguration is the linearity. Consumers may think about the linearity of the e-government. This idea is something about: “It is impossible use the same e-government technology after 50 years, and this reconfiguration will be with small upgrades and it is inevitable.” Although there are lots of components that should be upgraded frequently, there are quite enough number of components under e-government that may stay unchanged. For example the security modules should be upgraded frequently because hackers discovers new ways of attack and patching this vulnerabilities is necessary, but upgrading the calculation of taxes does not need to be upgraded, even if the tax rates changes. (here the word upgrade is used for the replacement with new technology, if the tax rates changes, an operator updates the new rates and system continue to work, there is no need for new technology). So feeling the necessity of upgrades in whole system whether needed or not, yields the linearity.
It is obvious that governing is a national issue and by switching to electronic governance almost all of the “under development countries” are effected and transformed to transnational systems, because of their massively imported foreign technology components.
From this point lets continue with the formal definition of “evolution of large technological systems”, by Pinch(1987). We should go into the definition of a large technological system to decide whether e-government is a large technological system or not. The definition of large technological system listed below:
is an extremely complex system from the view of a citizen. In fact e-government
is electrification of an already complex system, since most of the citizens
deals with governmental offices only when they really need to do. As we have
already declared the four levels of electronic governmental applications,
almost all of the governmental offices in
An important detail about e-government is the direction of its applications. We should raise the question: “What or who decides the direction of the e-government?”. Answers may vary from group to group like, “technology”, “government”, “engineers”, “citizens”, etc.
Answer of this question is the main purpose of this chapter, since the power relation in actor network theory is not enough to underline the realities.
Here it is the rest of the definition of the large technological systems definition:
by the light of above items we can model the flow of e-government as below diagram:
Figure 4: Ideal case for Turkish e-government application
In the figure, the items below “E-Government
Interface”, represents the inner components which are isolated from the world.
The only hole which adds the system a “social” aspect is the “Social &
Judicial Inspections” component where citizens can interact with the system and
be a part of shaping the system. Unfortunately
From the definition we should ask the question: “do we accept workers as a component of the system?”
Yes we do. While I have searched to prepare this
thesis, in any official
definition of e-government declared by a governmental department or office
Again from the definition, we should declare the
inputs and outputs of our large technological system in
By its nature e-government is a hierarchical system
which is inherited from the hierarchical governmental structure in
In the definition of centralization in large
technological systems, we can see both schemas (the large-centralized or
small-decentralized). We can draw the line between central government and local
After the critique about inputs and outputs of the
To make a better analyze we should go into the details of history of e-government. We should also look at the history of commercial web sites, since they have the initiative role in development of electronic operations. The initial information sharing over the Internet was holding static prose pages with no pictures or colors. After the spreading of HTML, which relatively gives designers more options, the necessity of web pages is increased. This is the loosely defined pattern, which we face with the primitive implementations of electronic government. Initially they were the static web pages prepared to announce the operations of governmental offices. This was the first contact of web technologies with the government offices. Operations run mostly over the e-mail transactions and government offices launches static web pages.
Furthermore, web technologies are modified by the demands of users. In the next generation the technology was capable of online forms, simple server/client operations like JAVA applets or CGI. This new technologies opens a new window of web programming, which enables programmers to write online programs, online transactions and online information sharing. Again the commercial implementations were the first initiative of technology. Most of the B2B implementations started after the settlement of this technology.
The technological achievements go on by the server
side scripting languages, online databases, and web services (which has started
to be actively settling about a year ago in
Our story goes on with the transfer of technology,
which is started before the innovation phase in our example. For example
On the other hand each society and each government has different request from the e-government solutions which creates local solutions. For example the government structure of US is more centric than the Turkish government structure, which enables the US e-government solutions a unique social security number for all of the operations, while Turkish citizens carries different numbers for each of the governmental offices.
Of course the irresistible profits in the e-government market, draws other companies to the market. For example JAVA was the dominating platform which was supplied by many companies and big enough to be a technology platform in e-government applications, has challenged by .Net, the platform of Microsoft.
By the light of above information, we can conclude that there is an evolution in the e-government technologies, while in fact it was inherited and innovated from similar markets like internet banking. E-government can be considered as a large technological system and it does evolve and this creates the danger of technological determinism.
Besides the systems approach, as a technological system, we can find the foot prints of technological determinism. Bimber(1994) defines the three faces of technological determinism as below:
Influence on history where societies attach cultural and political meaning to it.
Given the past and the laws of nature, there is only one possible future.
Uncontrollability and uncertainty yields the changes
Steam-mill is follows the hand-mill not by chance but because it is the next stage in a technical conquest of nature
Automobile is cleaner than horse, but environmental disadvantages of automobiles are unknown while it is first invented.
In the normative approach which is from Habermas’s critique, we can see the effects of cost, upgrade, mechanization and optimization dimensions. Turkish society believes the necessity of upgrades optimization and cost reduction, which an obvious result on the inquiry.
The second interpretation, the nomological one,
again fits the Turkish society case because of the awareness of alternatives
and effective parameters. Which is a tragic reality for even government
offices, that is why
Finally the third approach fits the shape of society because of the unconcern of society to the technology, or this case can be interpreted as the society which is helpless against the technology. In either case the result is same society has nothing to do with the technology.
By the three interpretations above, we can summary that, the Turkish society is deterministic in e-government applications.
The identification mark of social constructivism, in general, is that society and technology are viewed as constructed through negotiation between different social actors, groups or worlds. Technology and society are regarded as intertwined, which means that the impacts of technology and science on society are studied as well as the other way around (Harvey, F. and Chrisman, N. (1998)).
The constructivist approaches base their theories on criticism of, amongst other things, technological determinism. What is criticized is the way technology is considered, namely as a determinant for society. This fosters a linear way of thinking, according to the constructivist theoreticians. In their view technology has no autonomous character; this implies that technological changes are results of social processes (Bijker, B. (1995)).
In SCOT the developmental process of a technological artifact is a “multidirectional” model, in contrast with the linear models used explicitly in many innovation studies and implicitly in much history of technology. 
So the social constructivism of e-government can be
basically defined as the construction of an e-government technology by the
citizens. Since we are working on the
To answer this question, we should check the social
awareness and governmental documentation about the subject. Besides the
rhetoric speeches of political parties about the e-government in
After this definition we should raise the question:
“is there multidirectional model in e-government?”. Answer is yes. We found
more than 20 different technologies implemented and working in
In SCOT, ‘relevant social groups who play a role in the development of a technological artifact are defined as this groups who share a meaning of the artifact. This meaning can then be used to explain particular developmental paths. (Ronald Kline and Trevor Pinch(1996))
In SCOT, of course another important issue is the participation (deciding the shape of technology) of “relevant social groups”.
We have defined the relevant social groups of
Of course the reason of this unconcern has numerous reasons which are out of the scope of this thesis, but from the SCOT’s point of view, we can conclude that, the e-government technologies has almost no social construction.
In this thesis study, we have tried to place
e-government applications in
Ahmed(2001), Ahmed K. Elmagarmid, William J. McIver Jr. , “The Ongoing March Toward Digital Governmnet”, IEEE Computer, Feb 2001, p. 32-38
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Internet Conference in
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Actor-Network Theory Perspective” Proceedings 2000 AMCIS ed H.M. Chung,
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Dernegi, Informatics Association Of
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Windley(2002), Phillip J.
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Winner (1986), Langdon Winner, “Do Artifacts Have Politics?”, 1986
Please note that the information inside the
brackets are only for the Internet users (citizen to government operation type).
Almost all of these sites have an intranet interface which can be accessed by
internal users for government to government operations.
E-government, from the
From e-europe action plan 2001:
“At the European Ministerial Conference held in
Warsaw on 11-12 May 2000, Central and Eastern European Countries recognized the strategic goal set
by the EU-15 in Lisbon
and agreed to embrace the challenge set by the EU-15 with eEurope and decided to launch an “eEurope-like
Action Plan” by and for the
Candidate Countries as a compliment to the EU political commitments in order to
try and broaden the base for achieving the ambitious above mentioned goal. In
February 2001, the European Commission invited
Our initiative, which we name eEurope+, mirrors the priority objectives and targets of eEurope but provides for actions which tackle the specific situation of the Candidate Countries. It should not be perceived as a substitute for or interfering with accession negotiations.
Like eEurope, the eEurope+ Action Plan aims to accelerate reform and modernisation of the economies in the candidate countries, encourage capacity and institution building, improve overall competitiveness and provide for actions which address the specific situation of the Candidate Countries.“
Besides the above orientation of European Union, eEurope 2005 (which is declared on 2002) defines the target as listed below:
– modern online public services
– a dynamic e-business environment and, as an enabler for these
– widespread availability of broadband access at competitive prices
– a secure information infrastructure” , eEurope(2002)
In the eEurope 2005 action plan, council also suggests the mid-term reviews because of the new members. Another important issue in the action plan is the skilled employees. The below paragraph request a statistical study for the employment requirements. Although DPT prepares such reports before the European Union request, such plans make those reports more meaningful and practical studies:
end 2003, the Commission, in close co-operation with Member States, will
publish an analysis of the supply and the demand for e-skills in
In short:The Commission has proposed that
Brief news:IDA's (interchange of data between administrations) mission is to support the implementation of EU policies and activities by co-ordinating the establishment of Trans-European telematic networks between administrations.
In April 2003,
Increasing data exchange is expected to accelerate the candidate
countries' take-up of EU legislation before they formally join the EU. The
programme also aims at helping the future Member States integrate into the
IDA's 25 million euro work programme for 2003 takes into account the needs of the candidate countries. The candidate countries will have to bear the costs of their participation in IDA. However, they will be able to use some PHARE and pre-accession funds for that purpose.
To date, most candidate countries were involved as observers in several IDA working groups of national experts, responsible for areas such as network security and e-Government portals. Also, information events have been held in several candidate countries, and other events are being organised to raise awareness of how the IDA Programme works and how candidates can take part.
 Please refer to figure 1, the Information Society table.
 me from the computer science background is not aware of such threats
 This relation will be shown in ANT chapter.
 The story is a bit less or more same in any “underdevelopment country”, as the Turkish case.
 Which will be discussed in section 3.2
 Please refer to inettr(2002) for more information
 There is
less than %1 black population in
 Please refer to the time dimension.
 The addresses written to access a page on the Internet.
 The prime ministry in Turkish is: “Başbakanlık” and what we type to access its web site is www.basbakanlik.gov.tr
 Most of
these state economic enterprises are founded just after the settlement of
republican structure in
 For example in a daily news paper “Radikal”, a news underlines the time period of a divorce case in courts is 3 months in average (date 06/21/2004). http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=119994&tarih=21/06/2004
 The first moment of translation during which a focal actor defines identities and interests of other actors that are consistent with its own interests, and establishes itself as an obligatory passage point (OPP), thus "rendering itself indispensable"
 The second moment of translation which involves a process of convincing other actors to accept definition of the focal actor
 The moment that another actor accepts the interests defined by the focal actor.
 Question number 6, “How many articles have you read about e-governance until now?”
 Question number 5. “5. In how many government operations, do you use internet as a source of information (like search engines before operations)”
 Automatic Teller Machines
 original script:” Kamu kuruluşlarında bilgi ve iletişim teknolojileri azami ölçüde kullanılarak, e-Devlet uygulaması yaygınlaştırılacaktır.” From page 28
Which choice below, best describes the state of E-Government in
 Please refer to the upgrades dimension of e-government.
 please refer to Table 1
 At the best of my knowledge the connection between socially constructivism and representative democracy is an ongoing debate. For further information, please refer to [ttt]
 Please note that, foreign associations are still under strict restrictions by the law.
 More than 100 papers have read during this thesis study.
preparing this thesis,
 Please refer to the section 3.1. Actor Networks Theory, where we have defined the focal actors.
 Discussed in chapter 2.2. Dimensions of e-government.
 Please refer to the appendix Inquiry results.