Civic political engagement and social change in the new digital age

December 06, 2016 by Karolina Koc-Michalska, Darren G Lilleker, Thierry Vedel

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Over recent decades, research on the Internet and political participation has substantially developed, from speculative studies on possible impacts in social and economic life to detailed analyses of organizational usage. In the field of politics, focus is increasingly shifting from understanding organizational, or supply side, to the usage and dimension of citizen engagement. Citizens have various ways to engage in civic political life, with many new forms of engagement facilitated by digital technologies. The question is to what extent these forms of engagement have any impact on society and the way society is governed. More particularly, what forms of engagement have impact, what type of impact is evidenced, is that impact positive or negative, in what ways, and for whom? Phrasing the question in this way recognizes that citizen engagement can have a range of differing impacts, in multifaceted forms, and these impacts may not always be positive for broader society.