Does Social Media Promote Civic Activism? A Field Experiment with a Civic Campaign
42 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 16, 2015
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
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