transfer 22(4) » Rezeptions- und Wirkungsforschung

The Democratic Divide

How Do Sociodemographic and Personal Characteristics Influence Online Political Participation

In a world of increasing inequalities and shaking democracies the Internet is often seen as a possible equalizer when it comes to political participation. This work investigates how sociodemographics, political interest, and Internet skills influence online political activity. For this purpose a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed articles (n=15) from the past ten years was conducted. The independent variables age, gender, socioeconomic status, political interest and internet skills were assembled in five categories and their effect on various types of online political participation such as e-voting, political information production, and social media posting was explored.

Consistent with previous research, results showed that a democratic divide still largely persists. Overall, younger, male individuals with higher socioeconomic status, political interest, and internet skills were more likely to engage in political activities online, despite some equalizing effects connected with the use of social media. Positive tendencies of bridging the divide were observed in the gender category across economically advanced countries. Research gaps and directions for future research are discussed.