Simply slacktivism? Internet participation in Finland
Keywords:Slacktivism, Internet, Political Participation, Democracy, E-democracy
AbstractFollowing an initial euphoria over the democratising potential of the Internet, sceptic voices contend that participation via the Internet may increase existing inequalities and even weaken the influence of citizens. A central critique claims that the digital activities are nothing more than slacktivism, i.e. activities that enhance the feel good factor of the participant but have no impact on real life political outcomes. This study examines three accusations of slacktivism levelled against online participants: that they are detached from formal politics and therefore do not aim to influence political outcomes, that they are lazy citizens choosing easily accessible digital forms of engagement over more effective traditional activities, and that they are incapable of comprehending the functioning of the political system. The results suggest that there is little reason to be worried over any negative impact of the Internet on civic engagement, since the virtual participants are both active and competent citizens. In this sense, the accusation of slacktivism against the participants appears to be misguided.
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JeDEM is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal (ISSN: 2075-9517). All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Austria (CC BY 3.0) License.