Whither slacktivism? Political engagement and social media use in the 2013 Czech Parliamentary elections

2016-09-09T10:08:26Z (GMT) by Vaclav Stetka Jaromir Mazak
This article examines the relationship between online political expression and offline forms of political participation in the context of the 2013 Czech Parliamentary elections. It draws on the rapidly growing but still very much inconclusive empirical evidence concerning the use of new media and social network sites in particular for electoral mobilization and social activism, and their impact on more traditional forms of civic and political engagement. The theoretical framework of the paper is inspired by the competing perspectives on the role of social media for democratic participation and civic engagement, the mobilization vs. normalization thesis, as well as by the popular concepts of clicktivism or slacktivism (Morozov, 2009), denouncing online activism for allegedly not being complemented by offline actions and having little or no impact on real-life political processes. With the intention to empirically contribute to these discussions, this study uses data from a cross-sectional survey on a representative sample of the Czech adult population (N=1,653) which was conducted directly following the 2013 Parliamentary elections. The study was driven by the main research question: Is there a link between online political expression during the election campaign and traditional forms of political participation among Czech Facebook users? Furthermore, the analysis examined the relationship between online political participation and a declared political interest, electoral participation and political news consumption. The results obtained from an ordinal logistic regression analysis confirm the existence of a significant positive relationship between the respondents’ level of campaign engagement on Facebook and their political interest, political information seeking as well as traditional (mainly offline) participation activities, including voting.