Can You Engage in Political Activity Without Internet Access? The Social Effects of Internet Deprivation | R Shandler, ML Gross, D Canetti | Political Studies Review

To what extent can you engage in political activity in the modern age without Internet access? The growing dependence on Internet access to fulfill basic civil functions is threatened by increasing personal and societal cyber vulnerability. In this article, we explore the extent to which citizens are able, or unable, to engage in specific political activities in the absence of Internet connectivity. To concretize the subject, we test how Internet deprivation affects the ability to realize three basic elements of political participation: political expression, civic association, and access to information. To measure this, we develop a new experimental methodology that tests people’s ability to complete tasks related to each function under simulated treatments of Internet access or deprivation. This empirical methodology offers a new framework through which to quantify the realization of social tasks under experimental conditions. Early results suggest that the absence of Internet access significantly reduces task completion for activities related to political expression and political association and conditionally reduces task completion for practices associated with freedom of information. Having substantiated this empirical framework, we encourage its application to additional forms of political activity.

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