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The slacktivism crossroad: causal relationships between online and offline political participation

Keywords: online participation, turnout, protest, strikes, slacktivism

The consequences of online participation for offline political engagement have been analyzed with contradictory expectations and results. On the one hand, the “slacktivism” perspective considers that online participation may satisfy citizens enough to prevent them from taking part in more demanding modes of action. On the other hand, the “spillover” perspective considers online engagement as a first experience that may boost ulterior offline participation. Using panel data from Spain we show that there are important positive spillover effects of different modes of online participation over offline engagement, including turnout and participation in demonstrations and strikes. The effects seem to be fairly persistent along time. Contrary to what the literature suggest, attitudes do not seem to mediate in this relationship.

Paper