Who’s afraid of clicktivism? Exploring citizens’ use of social media and political participation in the Czech Republic

2016-09-14T10:22:05Z (GMT) by Jaromir Mazak Vaclav Stetka
This chapter aims to empirically investigate the connection between online political expression (Gil de Zuniga et al. 2014) and offline political and civic engagement in the context of the 2013 Czech Parliamentary elections. The theoretical context of the chapter is informed by the debates surrounding the role of social network sites and other Web 2.0 applications in facilitating new forms of civic engagement and political participation, and particularly by the concepts of “clicktivism” or “slacktivism” (e.g. Morozov 2009), claiming that online activism is often not being followed or complemented by offline or forms of participation, and that there is no link between digital engagement and citizens’ real–life actions. Driven by the main research question “How does social media use relate to election turnout and other forms of offline political participation?”, this study attempts to test this thesis, using data from a representative survey of the Czech adult population, distributed directly following the 2013 elections. The results suggest that the hypothesis about “clicktivism” is all but unfounded in the context of the Czech social network users, as those politically active online during the campaign are more likely to vote, and engage more often in other traditional participatory activities as well. The analysis further explores the relationship between participation and the use of social media, taking into account other factors such as political interest and political efficacy, with the ambition to provide a more detailed understanding of online political engagement and its determinants.