The Internet and political participation - Exploring the explanatory links
Karakaya Polat, Rabia
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There is a growing literature exploring the role of the Internet in influencing levels and styles of political participation. However, it is not yet clear why the Internet is perceived as a medium that can, at least potentially, increase participation. Moreover, putting the emphasis on the Internet as a technology rather than on its information and communication capabilities signals a tendency for technological determinism. In order to avoid this, the article explores the relation between the Internet and political participation by examining three different facets of the Internet: the Internet as an information source, as a communication medium and as a virtual public sphere. The main argument of the article is that it is these facets of the Internet that may affect levels and styles of political participation and hence are of interest for political scientists. The article also emphasizes the relevance of established theories of participation within political science in evaluating the potential role of the Internet for affecting levels and styles of political participation.