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How the Internet Affects Political Communication of Individuals - A Longitudinal Survey of Onliners and Offliners
Unformatted Document Text:  ICA-6-10602 11 5. Conclusions In summary, the following results can be stated: Concerning the differences between Internet users and non users, there is no evidence that internet access leads to a decrease in conventional political activities. To the contrary: Today’s internet users are more politically active than non-users – across all forms of political communication. Concerning the changes over time we can sum up: • Some gaps in Internet-access between social groups are closing, some are widening. • Especially divides in the usage of online-communication for political purposes have to be observed carefully in the future. • Over time we also can observe a mobilizing effect of the internet – people integrate their favorite online-communication habits in their political activities. Concerning the causes of these changes, the mobilizing effects cannot be simply written off as a result of higher political interest or educational level of the accessors; rather they can, in part, be ascribed to internet access. After all, these results make it clear that a technical expansion of the individual communication repertoire can certainly influence citizens’ actions. However, the next question is why some activities are demonstrably influenced by internet access and others not. Some further research needs to be done to clarify this. Even our set of data provides some possibilities to shed some light on interactions between online-access, individual variables and political communication. To us it seems plausible to ascribe this changing communication habits to a revised calculation of costs and benefits of the different means of communication.

Authors: Emmer, Martin. and Vowe, Gerhard.
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ICA-6-10602
11
5. Conclusions

In summary, the following results can be stated:
Concerning the differences between Internet users and non users, there is no evidence that
internet access leads to a decrease in conventional political activities. To the contrary:
Today’s internet users are more politically active than non-users – across all forms of political
communication.
Concerning the changes over time we can sum up:
Some gaps in Internet-access between social groups are closing, some are widening.
Especially divides in the usage of online-communication for political purposes have to
be observed carefully in the future.
Over time we also can observe a mobilizing effect of the internet – people integrate
their favorite online-communication habits in their political activities.
Concerning the causes of these changes, the mobilizing effects cannot be simply written off as
a result of higher political interest or educational level of the accessors; rather they can, in
part, be ascribed to internet access.
After all, these results make it clear that a technical expansion of the individual
communication repertoire can certainly influence citizens’ actions. However, the next
question is why some activities are demonstrably influenced by internet access and others not.
Some further research needs to be done to clarify this. Even our set of data provides some
possibilities to shed some light on interactions between online-access, individual variables
and political communication. To us it seems plausible to ascribe this changing communication
habits to a revised calculation of costs and benefits of the different means of communication.


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