Political activities on the Internet: <em>Slacktivism</em> or political participation by other means?

  • Henrik Serup Christensen Åbo Akademi University
Keywords: Political Participation, Democracy, Internet, Slacktivism

Abstract

The impact of the Internet on political participation has been a debated issue in recent decades. Internet activities have been criticized for being slacktivism, where the real life impact of the activities is limited; the main effect is to enhance the feel-good factor for the participants. This article examines whether this accusation is valid. It does so by examining two aspects of Internet campaigns: Whether they are effective in affecting real life political decisions, and whether Internet activism substitutes traditional forms of off-line participation. Although it is not possible to determine a consistent impact of Internet campaigns on real-life decisions, there is no evidence of the substitution thesis. If anything, the Internet has a positive impact on off-line mobilization. Accordingly, there is little evidence to support the accusation of Internet campaigns being slacktivism. It is at worst harmless fun and can at best help invigorate citizens.

Author Biography

Henrik Serup Christensen, Åbo Akademi University
Henrik Serup Christensen, Pol.Lic, Ph.D.-candidate at the Department of Political Science at Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. His research interests include political participation and especially newer forms of offline and online engagement.
Published
2011-02-02
How to Cite
Christensen, H. S. (2011). Political activities on the Internet: <em>Slacktivism</em&gt; or political participation by other means?. First Monday, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i2.3336