If You Build a Political Web Site, Will They Come? The Internet and Political Activism in Britain
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:Digital Literacy | e-Government | Participation
This study focuses on the capacity of the Internet for strengthening political activism. The first part summarizes debates about these issues in the previous literature. This study starts from the premise that political activism is a multidimensional phenomenon and that we need to understand how different channels of participation relate to the social and political characteristics of the online population. We predict that certain dimensions of activism will probably be strengthened by the rise of the knowledge society, particularly cause-oriented forms of political participation, reflecting the prior social and political characteristics of the online population. By contrast, we expect the Internet to have far less impact upon conventional channels of political participation, exemplified by election campaigns. The second part summarizes the sources of data and the key measures of political activism used in this study, drawing upon the British Social Attitudes Survey from 2003. The third part examines the evidence for the relationship between use of the Internet and patterns of civic engagement in the British context. The conclusion summarizes the results and considers their broader implications.