This lecture will analyse how online networks unfold over time and how they increase commitment to politically relevant activities.

Note: this event has had to be postponed to February 2012: the date is still to be confirmed.

Academic and media discourse have often assumed the democratising potential of the internet, and its impact on political engagement. This lecture will give an overview of the empirical evidence that supports those claims, paying special attention to what users do online that helps strengthen their political involvement.

The lecture will start with a review of recent research linking internet use with political participation; it will then discuss the mechanisms that mediate this association, with a focus on the role played by online networks. As recent mass mobilisations have shown – in the Middle East and North Africa, but also in several Western countries – the political activity that takes place in online networks can be very consequential offline. Online networks activate three mechanisms that are relevant to understand political engagement: first, they widen exposure to information; second, they facilitate the organisation of collective action; and third, they support new forms of association and public deliberation.

This lecture will analyse how online networks unfold over time and how they increase commitment to politically relevant activities.

This lecture is part of a public series on “Society and the Internet”, run by the OII. The series will continue in Hilary (spring) term.

About the speakers

This page was last modified on 15 March 2017