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Barriers to Entry and Online Poli1cal Ac1vism The Hopes and Fears Around Slack1vism Marko Skoric, NTU, Singapore Nathaniel Poor, Brooklyn, USA
The Issues Overlapping Issues… • Low levels of youth engagement in poli1cs. • Young people s broad use of social media. • Hopes and fears projected upon (any) new media. …which underlie: • Ci1zens civic and poli1cal engagement. • Fear of slack1vism. (slacker + ac1vism)
Slack1vism in Ac1on • Voicing opinions online, pos1ng comments and links, ‘liking’ certain groups and causes, changing avatars, etc. • Typically, slack1vist ac1vi1es do not involve signiﬁcant ﬁnancial or personal risks – No need to directly confront entrenched norms and prac1ces
An Example • US White House s digital pe11on site, We the People. • 5,000 votes needed. • 25,000… • 100,000. • Ex: Build a working death star from Star Wars (25k).
The Pre-‐Internet Origins of Slack1vism • Oﬄine slack1vism – Bumper s1ckers – Lapel s1ckers – Poli1cal bu^ons – Rubber wristbands – T-‐shirts • Since 1956, ques1ons on campaign bu^ons and bumper s1ckers included in ANES surveys – Widely used measures of poli1cal interest and par1cipa1on
What Mo1vates Slack1vists? • Selﬁsh and narcissis1c reasons (Morozov, 2009) • Construc1on of a desirable (online) iden1fy – hoped-‐for possible selves (Zhao et al., 2008) • Digital cultural objects can signal to others who we are or who we want to be – e.g. Image management on Facebook • Desirable friends • Focused on self-‐ rather than poli1cal expression?
Pros and Cons of Slack1vism • Key advantages: – Lowering the barriers to par1cipa1on – Reaching a large number of people quickly, with minimal eﬀort and at low cost • Crea1ng awareness is the ﬁrst step towards solving the problem – Oﬀering new opportuni1es for engagement to ci1zens disillusioned with tradi1onal poli1cs – Providing a space for prac1cing civic skills
Pros and Cons of Slack1vism • Key disadvantages: – Slack1vist ac1vi1es have li^le or no impact on real-‐life poli1cal outcomes – Emphasis on popularity, membership numbers and dona1ons – Degrada1on of the quality of ac1vism – May divert ci1zens from more produc1ve and meaningful ways to par1cipate – Usually lacking real leadership and strategy – Lacking a sacriﬁcial element that characterizes tradi1onal ac1vism
Does Social Media Use Promote Engagement? • Meta-‐analysis of 33 published survey based studies • Types of use à social capital/civic & poli1cal engagement • Average eﬀect size (correla1on coeﬃcient r) Type of socialmedia useMean (SE) SD NExpressive use 0.25 (0.10) 0.24 6Informational use 0.16 (0.05) 0.18 11Identity use 0.09 (0.03) 0.08 7Relational use 0.08 (0.05) 0.15 10Entertainment use -0.11 (0.06) 0.08 2