Political participation and new technologies

Authors: Filippo Tronconi


Digital technologies have deeply affected the way people think and act politically, as it has happened in many other aspects of individual and social life. This has led many scholars to update and reconsider some consolidated visions on political participation, starting from the definition of political participation itself. In this article I review the main findings of research on e-participation with respect to different types of activism, from individual acts to activities taking place in collective settings, like those of social movements and political parties. Finally, I reflect on the consequences of new digitally-driven forms of participation for the health of democracy, considering three specific aspects: participation inequality, the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of digital activism, polarization. As we will see, each of these fields shows a lively ongoing debate among observers.

Keywords: Political participation – Activism – Citizens journalism – Social movements – Political parties - Democracy