The Effects of Online Activity on Democratic Satisfaction: Evidence from the Westminster Democracies
13 Pages Posted: 22 May 2014 Last revised: 31 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
Drawing on previous research finding positive effects of political participation on diffuse support for democratic regimes, this study examines whether online political activity has similar or less positive effects. Multivariate analysis compares the impact of online and offline political discussion on democratic attitudes among citizens of the four major Westminster democracies: Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. In line with existing research, analysis finds that offline discussion positively affects satisfaction with democracy, while online discussion has a negative effect. More surprisingly, both modes of discussion have strong negative effects on external political efficacy. Further examination of who discusses politics online and offline reveals that discussants generally report democratic dissatisfaction and inability to affect electoral outcomes; online political discussion appears to affirm and even amplify those attitudes.
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