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Study: Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

Matt Ball on June 20, 2013 - in Planning, Projects

A Pew Research study examines online and offline political engagement and pays special attention to the role of social networking sites in people’s political activities.

There are several major findings:

  • Class differences, especially those related to educational attainment, are prominent in political engagement of all kinds, whether that activity takes place offline, online, or within the specific context of social networking sites (SNS), though the trend is somewhat more moderate in SNS.
  • There has been major growth in political activity on SNS between 2008 and this survey in 2012. The number of social networking site users has grown from 33% of the online population in 2008 to 69% of the online population in 2012. And there have been major jumps in the proportion of SNS users who post political news, who friend or follow candidates, and who joined an SNS group organized around political or social issues. In addition, notable shares of SNS users say their activity on the sites has prompted them to learn more about social or political issues and to take action around those issues.
  • For most politically active SNS users, social networking sites are not a separate realm of political activity. They are frequently active in other aspects of civic life.
  • Even as online platforms have grown more prominent in political affairs, Americans’ day-to-day political conversations mostly occur offline.

View the full report here.

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