How the Internet has changed participation: Exploring distinctive preconditions of online activism
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Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
Kopacheva, E. (Elizaveta). "How the Internet has changed participation: Exploring distinctive preconditions of online activism". Communication & Society. 34 (2), 2021, 67 - 85
The continuously growing number of people participating in Internet-based, online, political activism suggests that the latter has the potential to replace offline forms of unconventional political participation in the future. If that is the case, it is essential to understand the nature and objectives of such type of participation. This article addresses the question of distinctive preconditions of online activism. As a result of the mixed-effect logistic regression analysis of the European Social Survey data, it was found that online activism contrasts with other unconventional types of political participation in respect to the effect of social trust. It is suggested that the key differences between the preconditions of online and offline forms of participation may speak in favour of several phenomena. First of all, it is proposed that social networking services (SNSs) managed to create an illusion of directness of political participation. Secondly, new groups of people with the lower risk preferences may be recruited into online political action. Lastly, groups that do not believe in the effectiveness of political participation or that have other motives, such as a search for attention, may be more likely to participate online. The results call for further research on how SNSs reshape how people understand political engagement and how they want to be involved.

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