Political participation in
Albert & Charlotte
• What is political participation?
-Huntington & Nelson (1976: 3): "By political participation we
mean activity by private citizens designed to influence
-Verba et al. (1995: 38): "By political participation we refer
simply to activity that has the intent or effect of influencing
government action – either directly by affecting the making or
implementation of public policy or indirectly by influencing the
selection of people who make those policies."
Offline & traditional political participation..
Examples of traditional participation:
Protesting / demonstrating
Attending MP surgery
Signing a petition
Joining a pressure group
Attending parliamentary session
Traditional methods of political participation are quickly declining:
• Joining political parties – 2010, just 1% UK electorate now have full
party memberships (1950s: Conservatives nearly 3 million
members, Labor more than 1 million members)
• Voting in elections* – Very low turnout since 1997 (59.4% in 2001 =
the lowest since 1918)
New Media: online political participation..
General use of internet in the UK seen a huge increase, of course:
• 2006 = 16million adults going online everyday
• 2012 = 33million adults going online everyday
UK internet users:
• 2011 = 45.5million & 72.6% of the population
• 2013 = 48million & 75.7% of the population
• In the first year of UK e-petitions, the site was visited 17million
times (46,500 times a day) and gathered 6.4million signatures.
• New Media: effect on political participation..
How New Media can alter politcal
In 2007, Estonian parliamentary and European
elections took place online:
• Internet voting did not result in a higher
• However, did result in lower transaction costs
and increased efficiency
Who are the online activists?
Examinating demographic and socioeconomic datas from a
study by Oxford Internet Survey (oxIS) of the Internet
adoption and use in Britain in 2005.
There is no significant difference in term of gender, and
but it tends spread more over men.
More than a half of people from lower socioeconomic
grades have ever engaged in any king of political
Even if younger people are higher Internet users, older
people use it more in term of politic activism
More likely to be a young male, better educated and
How to explain these inequalities?
• Inequal access to new media
• Feeling that they have a lack off knowledge over politics
• Low self-efficiencly evaluation of their skills (novice users,
middle range users, veterans users)
• Younger are under-represented in online participation: do not
trust in political parties and politician (in 2011 only 7% said to
have some or great deal of trust in politician)
Offline and Online activism
• Online participation tends to reproduce the same inequalities
as in offline participation.
• ‘Digital divide’= social inequalities of access to Internet
• According to Gibson and his colleagues ‘online and offline
participation tend to reinforce each other but enable increase
participation at the margins’
• New media can envolve new people: 1/3 of people are only
engaged in online activism: new media can attract new
Young people, the new challenge for politician
• Young people does not trust politician= 66%
do not think UK government to be honest
• They think politician do not care about them
• Do not believe in politicians effectiveness
• Want to participate to political life