Home > Uncategorized > BLOG 9: Online Political Participation and Implications for Democracy

BLOG 9: Online Political Participation and Implications for Democracy

Online Political Participation v. ‘Real Life’ Political Participation — Online Political Participation IS Real

President Obama's Twitter

Political leaders, candidates, organizations, and parties have increasingly turned to the internet as a way to engage and involve citizens in political causes.  The vast expansion of the internet within the past few years has made many new online tools and venues available for political use.  Nearly every task related to political participation can now

be done online.  Watching or reading the news can be done online.

Most news stories promote news sharing and dicussion through panels like this one.

Discussion and debate on news and political issues can now take place through direct commenting, blogging, posting, tweeting, etc. Citizens can become involved in–and even donate to– political organizations or campaigns via facebook and webstites.  The extraordinarily diverse amount of online tools available to individuals and organizations (websites, blogs, facebook, twitter, youtube, email) have made it possible for citizens to get their political information online. More importantly, the internet provides a forum for interaction, discussion, and debate for engaged citizens.

Facebook Page for a Political Group: The College Republicn National Committee

Is online political participation “real” participation though? I would argue yes.  Online political participation seemsto have become just one form of real political participation.  Online news is the same news being communicated offline, online political discussions are the same discussions taking place offline, and a follower on twitter is a real supporter.

Limitations of Online Political Participation

Of course, some limitations do exist for those who choose only to participate in politics online.  You cannot volunteer for a cause or candidate online (but you can donate!), a youtube video probably cannot convey the true emotion of a political speech or rally, and perhaps importantly you cannot vote online.  Should citizens decide to only participate in politics online there would be severe consequences.  My guess however is that citizens who are actively engaged online will also participate in these offline political activities.

Blogs and commenting features foster political discussion and debate

Implications of Online Political Information for Democracy

Despite its limitations, I think online political participation is beneficial for democracy.  Whereas many citizens may be reluctant to invest time and resources into offline political participation, the internet provides a more convenient way to become involved.  Additionally, citizens who may feel they don’t have the knowledge or qualifications to actively participate in ‘real’ political activities may be less intimidated by joining an online group, following political leaders on twitter, commenting on news stories, or posting a link to a news story.  Basically, the internet lowers the cost of political participation and allows more people to become informed and more involved in politics. I think inline political participation provides the same quality and value of other forms of political participation.  Not only does the internet increase the number of citizens involved in politics by providing online resources and venues for political participation, but it also leads to a more informed and engaged citizenry that actively participates in politics both on and off line.

  1. April 14, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    This is a good-looking post. The screen captures w/descriptions look really nice. The headings help organize and structure the post. Good job.

    Be sure to review the text carefully (last paragraph says “inline political participation” instead of, I assume, “online”).

    Also, use an active voice. Don’t pose the question of whether online participation is real and then say “I would argue yes.” Actively and clearly state that online participation is real participation.

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