by Christopher Olver, The Journalist's Resource
June 1, 2011
From fundraising and campaigning to organization and voter recruitment, the Internet has changed electoral politics in America. Because of the Web's inherently open nature, it was thought that its use would reduce the socioeconomic inequality in U.S. politics, where more affluent citizens and groups often have higher participation rates and thereby exert greater power.
A 2010 study by scholars at Boston College, Harvard University, and University of California, Berkeley, published in Perspectives in Politics, "Weapon of the Strong? Participatory Inequality and the Internet," looked at data from a 2008 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project to determine if the Internet reduced inequality within political activity.
The study's findings include:
In conclusion, the authors state that the "digital divide" appears to extend into the political realm, with "a strong positive relationship between [socioeconomic status] and -- with the possible exception of political social networking -- every measure of Internet-based political engagement we reviewed."
Tags: elections, inequality
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