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Pew on civic engagement

Pew Internet & Life has a new study on the Internet and civic engagement. Here are the four key findings, as put by Lee Rainie, the head of the project:

First, those engaged with civic life online are very similar to those who participate offline from a socio-economic perspective. It turns out that overall the internet is not dramatically diversifying the class of folks who are civically engaged. The well-to-do and well-educated still predominate online, despite some of the early hope and predictions of activists.

Second, generational change in civic engagement is taking place online. Young adults, traditionally a politically inactive group, show less of a deficit in online than in offline political participation.

Third, new kinds of civic engagement are being created in the social mediasphere – on blogs, social network sites, Twitter and the like. Young internet users dominate their elders in those areas and there is tantalizing evidence that socio-economic stratification is not as pronounced among the social media participants who are civically engaged.

Fourth, we find that online tools like email, websites, and instant messaging are now embedded in civic activity as groups of all kinds use them to further civic and political goals.

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One Response to “Pew on civic engagement”

  1. “…blogs, social network sites, Twitter and the like. …there is tantalizing evidence that socio-economic stratification is not as pronounced among the social media participants who are civically engaged.”

    That may be due to the relative newness of those applications, where a generally-accepted way of reflecting social hierarchy has not yet had time to take root. Wasn’t e-mail, when it was new, seen as the great leveller, allowing the humblest mail-room temp to address the CEO and expect an answer? Now, not so much.


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