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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article investigates the evidence and debates over the influences of the internet on how, and how much, citizens participate. It concentrates on the knowledge and involvement of individual citizens. In particular, it describes how online participation affects ‘offline’ participation, the nature of participation, and political representation more generally. A key consideration is how internet use for information or participation differs from alternatives ‘offline’, and whether citizens' use of the internet actually causes, or merely reflects, changes in civic engagement and participation. It argues that the internet has the potential to transform participation in several important ways. The extant evidence reveals more about links between internet use and voting than how online politics affects the decision to vote. The literature about the differences in networks and participation online strongly suggests the need for more social network analysis.

Keywords: digital democracy, internet, citizens, online participation, electoral participation, offline participation, voting, online politics

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