Can Online Civic Education Induce Democratic Citizenship? Experimental Evidence from a New Democracy

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See all articles by Steven Finkel

Steven Finkel

Department of Politics

Anja Neundorf

School of Social and Political Sciences

Ericka Gabriela Rascon Ramirez

Middlesex University

Date Written: February 3, 2021

Abstract

How can democratic values and behavior be induced in new democracies? To answer this question, we test the impact of original civic education interventions in Tunisia, implementing an experiment with subjects recruited through Facebook and Instagram. Participants were randomly assigned to three treatment groups and one placebo group. Two treatments were derived from prospect theory, emphasizing the benefits or gains of a democratic system, or the losses by pitting autocracy versus democracy. A third treatment, derived from self-efficacy theory, provided practical information regarding participation in the upcoming 2019 elections. Our findings suggest that online civic education can have a considerable effect on democratic citizenship, including a significant reduction in authoritarian nostalgia and increasing intended political behavior such as electoral registration. Effects are strongest among those less engaged in the electoral process. When comparing the treatments across outcomes, we find that loss/gain-framed interventions are most effective in promoting democratic orientations.

Keywords: Democratization, civic education, social media, online experiments, prospect theory, self-efficacy.

Suggested Citation

Finkel, Steven and Neundorf, Anja and Rascon Ramirez, Ericka Gabriela, Can Online Civic Education Induce Democratic Citizenship? Experimental Evidence from a New Democracy (February 3, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3778600

Steven Finkel

Department of Politics ( email )

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Anja Neundorf (Contact Author)

School of Social and Political Sciences ( email )

Adam Smith Business School
Glasgow, Scotland G12 8LE
United Kingdom

Ericka Gabriela Rascon Ramirez

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

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