Exploring the patterns of e-participation among Europeans

María Vicente Cuervo, Amparo Novo Vázquez
Abstract:
One of the hottest debates around the internet is whether it reproduces the well-known divides in political participation or, on the contrary, it ameliorates them. The empirical evidence on such issue is mixed. This paper tries to contribute to this line of research by analyzing the patterns of e-participation among Europeans. By using a data from a sample of internet users across the European Union, the engagement on four e-participation activities is studied. Results show that, even once all the barriers associated with internet access have been overcome, citizens’ e-participation is related to their socio-economic background.
Área(s) temática(s):
Año:
2016
Tipo de publicación:
Paper/Extenso Congresos GIGAPP
Número:
2016-472
Serie:
VII Congreso Internacional en Gobierno, Administración y Politicas Públicas. GIGAPP 03-05 octubre 2016.
Dirección:
Madrid, España
Organización:
GIGAPP. Asociación Grupo de Investigacion en Gobierno, Administración y Políticas Públicas
Mes:
Octubre
Comentarios:
.The data used in this analysis comes from a survey carried out by the European Commission with the aim to collect information that allowed to understand the use of online services across Europe (European Commission, 2012b, 2013).<br /> The paper is organized as follows. Next section presents a literature review. Then, data, methodology and variables are described. Finally, results are presented followed by some concluding remarks.<br /> In this comunication, Europeans’ online engagement in participatory activities is analyzed through the following four binary variables: (1) having contacted any political representative at the local, regional, national or European level by e-mail; (2) having consulted policy documents or decisions on local, regional, national or European government websites; (3) having participated in online consultations on policy issues organized by local, regional, national or European governments; and (4) having participated in interactive discussions about local, regional, national or European policy issues. In order to determine whether the factors influencing each type of participation are the same or not, separate probit regressions are run. This comunication attempts to show some light on this issue by analyzing the patterns of e-participation across the 28 member states of the European Union. Previous research has focused on individual countries. Results highlight that the internet replicates the traditional unequal patterns of political participation observed offline. Thus, women, the eldest, low-educated and unemployed are found to be significantly less likely to engage in any of the participation activities considered compared men, youngsters, high-educated individuals and employed. These results are very interesting since the present analysis is based on a sample of internet users and then shows what would happen if equal access were achieved. Results suggest that, even in that case and once controlled for individual’s e-skills and online networking, activities socio-economic characteristics do matter.
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