Despite the consensus that social media are changing communication, no such consensus exists when it comes to assessing the effects that the emerging social network services may have on political participation. While optimistic assumptions point toward increased interest and the fostering of social engagement through the use of online social networks, the more skeptical view expects an exacerbation of the trend toward dwindling political interest and increasing political apathy, as manifested, for example, in declining voter participation and party membership. The present study argues that the contradictory assessments are due to different definitions of participation, which themselves reflect changing notions of democracy. Based on representative survey data, the analysis focuses on the relationship of media use and various forms of political participation, examining whether the former ideal of "collective action" is being replaced by the notion of "connective action" (W. Lance Bennett), which puts more emphasis on participatory action as an act of personal expression across trusted social networks.

CMC Staff

Maren B. M. Beaufort (Project Leader, Contact)

Josef Seethaler

Cooperation Partners

Brian D. Loader, University of York, Department of Sociology (Congress Organisation: “Digital Media, Political Polarization and Challenges to Democracy”)

Congress Organisation

Digital Media, Political Polarization and Challenges to Democracy - an International Symposium (with the University of York), Vienna, 21-22 September 2017

ORF DialogForum „Wer ist das Volk? [Who are the People?]“ - Public Lecture mit W. Lance Bennett, University of Washington (with the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation ORF), Vienna, 21 September 2017

Changing Media – Changing Democracy? Exploring the Democratic Potential of Social Media. 20th Anniversary Conference of the Institute for Comparative Media and Communication Studies (CMC) along with the 4th Research Conference of the Austrian Research Association – Working Group on Democracy and the 2014 Workshop of the “Network Media Structures”, Vienna, 6-7 November 2014

In the Media

Comment on the lecture by W. Lance Bennett in: Falter, 04.10.2017

Maren Beaufort and Josef Seethaler on social media and political engagement: Ö1 – “Digital.Leben“, 25.01.2016

20th Anniversary Conference of CMC on Youtube, 10 November 2014 

Publications and Lectures