The Curious Case of Digitally Networked Participation Conceptualizing and Measuring Digitally Enabled Political Participation

27 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015  

Yannis Theocharis

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES)

Jan W. van Deth

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES)

Date Written: September 7, 2015

Abstract

The arrival of digital media added important parameters to the debate on the conceptualization and measurement of political participation. They have offered inexhaustible creative and non-political ways to engage in social and political life that, in a plethora of everyday contexts, seem to become embedded into what eventually becomes a politically meaningful act. This paper argues that various manifestations of digitally networked participation are forms of political participation and should be conceptualized, identified, and measured as such. Relying on recent conceptual work, a novel extensive measure of political participation is developed and tested with data obtained from a survey among a representative sample of the German population. The findings provide empirical evidence for the claim that forms of digitally networked participation establish a distinct mode of political participation by showing, firstly, that these forms are systematically integrated into a multi-dimensional taxonomy of the repertoire of political participation. Secondly, we show that the antecedents of digitally networked participation are very similar to the antecedents of other modes of participation. Although the actual level of political participation in digital networks is rather modest, our findings corroborate the idea that digitally networked participation is an ordinary mode of participation which, by now, has acquired its place in the repertoire of political participation of citizens in democratic societies.

Keywords: Political participation, digital media, social networking sites, political behavior

Suggested Citation

Theocharis, Yannis and van Deth, Jan W., The Curious Case of Digitally Networked Participation Conceptualizing and Measuring Digitally Enabled Political Participation (September 7, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2657082 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2657082

Yannis Theocharis (Contact Author)

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

Jan W. Van Deth

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

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