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Testing a Digital Inequality Model for Online Political Participation

2017

Moritz Büchi /

Vogler, Florian

In: Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 3, 1–13. http://doi.org/10.1177/2378023117733903

Increasing Internet use is changing the way individuals take part in society but research on the mobilizing effects of the Internet for political participation shows mixed results. The present study takes a digital inequality perspective and analyzes the role of political interest and Internet expertise for the social structuration of online political participation. Analyses are based on two-wave nationally representative survey data from Switzerland and use cluster analy-sis and structural equation modeling. A distinct group of political users emerged characterized by high education and income. Further, online political participation is predicted by political interest and Internet skills, which in-creasingly mediated the effects of social position. Digital information policies should therefore include the promotion of Internet skills and effective use, particularly in marginalized social groups, to avoid reinforcing traditional par-ticipatory inequalities in the digital society.