CERG Description

The goal of the Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) is to provide an evidence base that informs the design of policies and programs that promote the development of citizens for an effective, just, and humane democratic society.

The Political Significance of Online Activities and Social Networks
by Joseph Kahne and Benjamin Bowyer
February 5, 2018
In this study, we assess the potential significance of two broad categories of online activity: friendship-driven (FD) and interest-driven (ID) engagement (see Ito et al., 2009; Jenkins, 2009). We test the hypotheses that these practices will create on-ramps to political activity, both online and offline, by fostering politically relevant skills and online social networks that prompt exposure to political issues. Our analyses employ a cross-lagged model, drawing on data from the 2013 and 2015 waves of the Youth Participatory Politics (YPP) Survey, a nationally representative panel of youth who were 15–27 years of age in 2013. Our findings illustrate the importance of FD and ID online activity for the development of youth political engagement, both online and offline. In addition, they highlight the importance of online social networks as a mechanism for leveraging weak social ties that promote participation.