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Does Social Media Promote Civic Activism? A Field Experiment with a Civic Campaign

42 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2015  

Florian Foos

University of Zurich

Lyubomir Kostadinov

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

Nikolay Marinov

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science

Frank Schimmelfennig

ETH Zürich

Date Written: December 16, 2015

Abstract

We develop a set of theoretical expectations about the utility of social media as a tool for recruiting participants in a civic campaign, and as a medium capable of changing the views and knowledge of those recruited. We test our hypothesized relationships in a randomized field experiment deployed in Bulgaria. We find that online campaigns draw a sample of the population that distrust traditional institutions and believe in the leading role of civic society for social change. We also find more limited evidence that, only for those who distrust traditional institutions, being enrolled in the campaign changes expectations of success in a positive way. Our hypotheses and findings speak to a wide variety of citizen campaigns coordinated with social media, and have special relevance for countries between facade democracy and hybrid regime type where civic activity by necessity lives on the social network.

Keywords: social media, civic activism

Suggested Citation

Foos, Florian and Kostadinov, Lyubomir and Marinov, Nikolay and Schimmelfennig, Frank, Does Social Media Promote Civic Activism? A Field Experiment with a Civic Campaign (December 16, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2704356 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2704356

Florian Foos

University of Zurich ( email )

Department of Political Science
Affolternstrasse 56
Zurich, 8050
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.ipz.uzh.ch/institut/mitarbeitende/staff/foos_en.html

Lyubomir Kostadinov

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

1250 24th Street, N.W.
P.O. Box 97180
Washington, DC 20090-7180
United States

Nikolay Marinov (Contact Author)

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science ( email )

Mannheim, D-68131
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.nikolaymarinov.com/

Frank Schimmelfennig

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015
Switzerland

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