fredag 20. januar 2012

How do social media change the conditions for civic and political mobilization?

How do social media change the conditions for civic and political mobilization? 
Bernard Enjolras, Kari Steen-Johnsen and Dag Wollebæk
Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference on Democracy as Idea and Practice University of Oslo January 12-13, 2012. 

This paper examines how the expansion of online social media affects offline  civic and political  mobilization. Based on individual web survey data on participation in demonstrations and on social  media use in Norway, we ask whether social media transform individual level and structural level  conditions for mobilization. Our results show that social media impacts on individual agency in  relation to demonstrations, in particular on the access to information and the interest in participating.  Further, being connected to information structures through social media has a strong and independent  effect on mobilization, and must be conceived as a supplement both to established organizational  society and to mainstream media. Finally, our analysis shows that there are significant differences  between those who are mobilized to demonstrations through social media and those who are mobilized  through established civil society and political organizations, since participants mobilized through  social media are characterized by lower socio-economic status and younger age. A similar pattern  occurs when social media mobilization is compared to mobilization through mainstream and other  media. Based on our findings we therefore argue that  a transformation of civic and political  mobilization may be underway. Social media seem to represent an alternative structure alongside  mainstream media and established political and civil society that recruits in different ways and that  reaches different types of people. If so, this is a different finding from what has been concluded in  relation to the impact of the Internet (web 1.0.) on political engagement, where the re-enforcement  thesis has so far received quite substantial support.

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