The political competence of internet participants: Evidence from Finland

Christensen, H. S., & Bengtsson, A
Information Communication & Society, 14 (6), (S. 896-916).

The role of the Internet in promoting active and efficacious citizenship has been debated. After initial excitement over the possibilities of the Internet, scholars have increasingly grown more cautious. Not only has it been doubted that the Internet is able to mobilize new segments of the citizenry, the abilities of those virtually active to navigate the political system have also been called into question. Hence, the problem concerns a quantitative aspect, involving the willingness to participate, and a qualitative aspect, that is, the political competences of Internet participants. This paper examines the extent to which the Internet in Finland mobilizes citizens who are both willing and able to participate in political matters, but just happens to prefer alternative outlets for their political preferences. The data used are the Finnish National Election Study 2007, which makes it possible to gauge both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of political participation via the Internet. The results suggest that a substantial part of the Finnish adult population is only politically active via the Internet. Furthermore, these virtual citizens are at least as politically competent as traditional activists, and on most accounts even more so. Accordingly, it seems the Internet may well play an important role in vitalizing the citizenries of the established democracies.

Zitation (APA)

Christensen, H. S., & Bengtsson, A (2011). The political competence of internet participants: Evidence from Finland. Information Communication & Society, 14(6), 896-916.