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The Internet - Political Turn-On or Turn-off?

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The Internet - Political Turn-On or Turn-off?

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The Internet - Political Turn-On or Turn-off?

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  1. The Internet - Political Turn-On or Turn-off? John Curtice Strathclyde University/ National Centre for Social Research

  2. The Project • Modules on British Social Attitudes 2003 and 2005; plus previous info from 2000 • Examine relationship between internet use and (1) political engagement, (2) social capital • Main N=3297 (2003); 3167 (2005) • 2005 module fielded after general election

  3. The Structure • Has access to the internet helped to increase the political engagement of individual voters? • What role did the internet play in the dissemination of information in the 2005 election?

  4. A turned on voter… • …trusts politicians & government • …participates in politics

  5. Why might internet turn people on? • Greater transparency and availability of information • Lower cost - do it from home • Lower cost - easier to organise • Easier to find fellow adherents

  6. The Problem • If at one point in time internet users are more trusting and/or active… • …is that because they use the internet • or, because they were more trusting and/or active in the first place?

  7. Trust by Length of Use

  8. System Efficacy by Use

  9. Personal Efficacy by Use

  10. MPs lose touch

  11. Politics too complicated

  12. Interest in Politics

  13. Interest in Politics

  14. Political Participation

  15. Gone on demo

  16. Contacted MP

  17. Conclusion • (Already) politically active were early internet adopters and use it as one way of pursuing their interest • But internet does not (substantially) increase how many people are politically ‘engaged’

  18. But does this miss the point? • Argument assumes that internet only has a direct impact • website -> user • Possibility of two-step flow. • website -> user -> others • Fragmentation means two-step flows now only way any medium has an impact?

  19. Acquiring information

  20. The Usual Suspects?

  21. Election Talk

  22. Who Talks Most?

  23. Do Digital Users Talk?

  24. Conclusion • Still the case that few people use the internet to find out about politics • Those that do are mostly the usual suspects • Nevertheless digital users are particularly talkative - and so add a little more to the two-step flow of information