Vol 1, No 2 (2014)

Are social networks reducing inequality in political participation?

Political participation research has consistently shown that age and education among other factors, to a large extent determine who the activists are. The rise of social media services such as Facebook has however prompted hopes that new and more flexible forms of participation might lead to reduced inequality in political participation. This paper uses unique data on the political uses of social network sites in Sweden in order to study whether the participation through Facebook and other social media services reduces inequality, concentrating on three typical and widespread forms of participation: signing petitions, writing debate articles, and doing work in political organisations. The answer is that they do not: resource factors such as education are even more important in explaining participation through social media than through other channels.

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