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Political Participation by Active and Passive Blog Users

The next session at ICA 2010 starts with Sandra Hsu, whose interest is in the distinctions between active and passive blog use. What are the relationships between these uses? What is the impact of blogging, especially of political participation? How do users select the media they use? What is the role of interactivity, and how does blog-based discussion unfold?

The core hypothesis of this research was that active blog use will predict online and offline political participation, while passive use will not. This was tested using a Web-based survey with some 1,100 respondents. Participants were categorised for their online and offline participation, their level of discussion with people connected by weak ties, their reasoning strategies (backing up argumentswith facts) and their level of engagement with non-like-minded participants.

Findings were that there was a positive relationship between an active use of blogs and political participation on- and offline; there was no such correlation for passive use. (Younger people were especially active online; wealthier users offline.) Active use was also related to greater engagement with weak ties, disagreeing views, and better reasoning strategies.

So, the distinction between active and passive use matters in understanding the connection between blog use and political participation.

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