Online Participation and Decision-Making
29 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 21, 2014
It is our aim to illustrate a picture of the online participation behavior of German Internet users. We study today’s forms of online participation in two selected fields: politics and the economy. The study is built upon 13 types of opportunities to participate. The outcome is based on a TNS Infratest panel, which is representative of Germany’s online population. The selected sample size reached n=504 respondents.
The results of the study address three central questions:
1. Who participates online today?
We are interested in the distribution of sociodemographic (gender and age distribution) and socioeconomic (income distribution, educational background and current employment status) characteristics within user groups.
Our results show that internet users between the ages of 18 and 36, especially those with a university degree are the most active online participants.
2. What do the users do and what interests them?
Regarding the inquired participation forms, we indicate the frequency of usage, the width and intensity of online activities performed, and the individual level of interest in their respective participation forms. Our findings demonstrate that signing an e-petition, has become a very popular form of political and social online participation. Overall, the amount of time respondents dedicate to online participation demonstrates a high level of engagement.
3. What motivations and incentives are behind online participation?
In the third part, we examine what triggers online participation on the basis of action-oriented, outcome-oriented, and consequence-oriented motivations. Based on the answers given by respondents, five different user groups were identified by similar incentive structures. Creativity and self-efficacy were central personality characteristics noted in the study. The results show that the more users engage in participation forms, the more empowered and creative they feel.
Keywords: Online Participation, Decision-making, Political participation, Economical participation, E-Petition, Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding, Idea Competition, Participatory Budgeting
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