Political activities on the Internet: Slacktivism or political participation by other means?
Type of work: Article (academic)
The impact of the Internet on political participation has been a debated issue in recent decades. Internet activities have been criticized for being slacktivism, where the real life impact of the activities is limited; the main effect is to enhance the feel–good factor for participants. This article examines whether this accusation is valid. It does so by examining two aspects of Internet campaigns: Whether they are effective in affecting real–life political decisions, and whether Internet activism substitutes traditional forms of off–line participation. Although it is not possible to determine a consistent impact of Internet campaigns on real–life decisions, there is no evidence of the substitution thesis. If anything, the Internet has a positive impact on off–line mobilization. Accordingly, there is little evidence to support the accusation of Internet campaigns being slacktivism. It is at worst harmless fun and can at best help invigorate citizens.