Effects Of Social Media On Political Participation

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Effects of Social Media on Political Participation

Effects of Social Media on Political Participation

Thesis Statement

The media mix of this young population includes heavy use of social network sites (SNSs), such as MySpace and Facebook, and Web sites where users have become accustomed to a level of personal information and interactivity not afforded by traditional political communication methods.


The 2008 presidential election supplied some of the most complex and interactive candidate Web communication yet. With varying degrees of success, the two leading candidates built their own social network platforms within their main Web sites, in addition to maintaining a presence on the popular public social network sites. While candidates were and are expending significant resources to create and maintain these sites, limited research exists on the impact of the sites on targeted groups and the tactic's ability to increase knowledge of or participation in the political process(Cohen 2008, 727). As recently as 2006, political candidates began posting profiles on these sites in order to reach out to younger voters and keep pace with other candidates (Eveland 2004, 177).


The 2008 presidential election saw record total turnout among young voters, and a significant increase in turnout from the previous presidential elections in 2000 and 2004. While much of this is attributable to a dynamic candidate who appealed to young voters, this candidate's embrace of online recruiting tools indicates that these tools may be effective in significantly increasing the precursors to voting, such as political efficacy (Bennett 2000, 12).

While the available research on political social network sites has recently begun to build the effects of the Internet on political interest, involvement, and engagement. There is also some evidence that the Internet, for a variety of reasons, could be more effective at promoting democratic participation than traditional media. These effects are expected to extend to political SNS. Some of the first studies in the area of SNSs show that they may have a positive impact on a voter's confidence in his or her adequacy to engage in the political process, an important precursor to political participation (Kim, 2003). SNSs also have the ability to reach those who are less interested in politics, which tend to miss other online candidate communications such as Web sites, since these sites have to be intentionally sought out rather than just stumbled upon as one might incidentally find the social network profile of a candidate.

Political efficacy, "the feeling that individual political action does have, or can have, an impact on the political process", is an established precursor to political participation. This larger constrain of political efficacy was sub-divided into the two concepts of internal and external political efficacy due to repeated findings of multidimensionality and concerns regarding the validity of the larger constrain. Research has demonstrated the value and validity of each of these separate concepts in isolation, with IPE in particular being noted as a robust measure (Carpini 2004, 395). Political information efficacy emerged the sharing of remarkable ...
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