The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate research project is designed to examine critically the Internet’s role in enabling new forms of democratic social accountability and voice, comparable to the Fourth Estate enabled by the press in an earlier era. This work developed out of Bill Dutton’s 2007 Oxford Inaugural Lecture Through the Network (of Networks) – the Fifth Estate (webcast). It is anchored in themes emerging from, and studied through, the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) and related empirical research. The concept has been further developed in a series of publications at the OII (see: ), and continues through a set of ongoing spin-off research projects at the Quello Center.

Selected Publications include:

Dutton, W. H. (2007), ‘Through the Network (of Networks) – the Fifth Estate’, Inaugural lecture, Examination Schools, University of Oxford, 15 October. Available online at:

Dutton, W. H. (2009), ‘Democracy on the Line: The Fifth Estate?’, Oxford Today, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 12-15.

Dutton, W. H. (2009), ‘The Fifth Estate Emerging through the Network of Networks’, Prometheus, Vol. 27, No. 1, March: pp. 1-15.

Dutton, W. H. (2010), ‘Democratic Potential of the Fifth Estate’, PerAda Magazine,

Dutton, W. H. (2010), ‘The Fifth Estate Emerging Through the Internet and Freedom of Expression’, pp. 22-25 in A News Future and the Future of the Journalism Profession: An IPI Report. International Press Institute and the Poytner Institute.

Dutton, W. H. (2010), ‘The Fifth Estate: Democratic Social Accountability through the Emerging Network of Networks’, pp. 3-18 in Nixon, P. G., Koutrakou, V. N., and Rawal, R. (Eds), Understanding E-Government in Europe: Issues and Challenges. London: Routledge.

Dutton, W. H. (2011), ‘A Networked World Needs a Fifth Estate’, Wired Magazine, 22 October,

Dutton, W. H. (2012), ‘The Fifth Estate: A New Governance Challenge’, pp. 584-98 in Levi-Faur, D. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Newman, N., Dutton, W. H., and Blank, G. (2012), ‘Social Media in the Changing Ecology of News: The Fourth and Fifth Estates in Britain’, International Journal of Internet Science, 7(1): 6-22.

Dubois, E., and Dutton, W. H. (2012), ‘The Fifth Estate in Internet Governance: Collective Accountability of a Canadian Policy Initiative’, Revue française d’Etudes Américaines RFEA, 143, (4): 81-97.

Dutton, W. H. (2013), ‘The Internet and Democratic Accountability: The Rise of the Fifth Estate’, pp. 39-55 in Lee, F.L.F., Leung, L., Qui, J. L., and Chu, D.S.C. (eds), Frontiers in New Media Research. Abbingdon: Informa, Taylor and Francis/Routledge.

Dutton, W. H., and Dubois, E. (2013), ‘The Fifth Estate of the Digital World’, pp. 131-43 in Youngs, G. (ed.), Digital World: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights. London: Routledge.

Dutton, W. H. (2013), ‘The Fifth Estate: The Internet’s Gift to Democratic Governance’, InterMEDIA, Volume 41, October, pp. 20-24.

Dutton, W. H. with the assistance of Elizabeth Dubois (2014) (ed.) Politics and the Internet, Volumes 1-4. Abingdon: Routledge.

Dubois, E., and Dutton, W.H. (2014), ‘Empowering Citizens of the Digital Age: The Role of a Fifth Estate’, pp. 238-53 in Graham, M., and Dutton, W. H. (eds), Society and the Internet. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dutton, W. H. (2015), ‘The Internet’s Gift to Democratic Governance: The Fifth Estate’, pp. 164-73 in S., Moss, G., and Parry, K. (eds), Can the Media Save Democracy? Essays in Honour of Jay G. Blumler. London, Abington: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dutton, W. H. and Dubois, E. (2015), ‘The Fifth Estate: A New Pluralistic Force of Accountability’, pp. 51-66 in Coleman, S., and Freelon, D. (eds), The Handbook of Digital Politics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.