Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies (Oxford Studies in Digital Politics) (Hardcover)

Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies (Oxford Studies in Digital Politics) By Cristian Vaccari, Augusto Valeriani Cover Image
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Much time has been spent over the past decade debating whether social media contribute to democracy. Drawing on an original study of internet users across nine Western democracies, Outside the Bubble offers an unprecedented look at the effects of social media on democratic participation.

This book argues that social media do indeed increase political participation in both online and face-to-face activities--and that they expand political equality across Western democracies. In fact, Cristian Vaccari and Augusto Valeriani find that, for the most part, social media do not constitute echo chambers or filter bubbles as most users see a mixture of political content they agree and disagree with. Various political experiences on social media have positive implications for participation and active political involvement: social media allow citizens to encounter clearly identifiable political viewpoints, facilitate accidental exposure to political news, and enable political actors and ordinary citizens to reach voters with electoral messages designed to mobilize them. Moreover, political interactions occurring on social media do not only benefit citizens who are already involved, but boost participation across the board. This is because social media offer both additional
participatory incentives to the already engaged and new political opportunities for the less engaged.

By adopting a comparative approach, Vaccari and Valeriani also show that political institutions matter since some political experiences on social media are more strongly associated with participation in majoritarian systems and in party-centric systems. While social media may contribute to many societal problems, they can help address at least two important democratic ills: citizens' apathy towards politics, and inequalities between those who choose to exercise their voice and those who remain silent.

About the Author

Cristian Vaccari is Professor of Political Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Press/Politics and a past Chair of the Information Technology & Politics section of the American Political Science Association. He is also a rapporteur of the Committee of Experts on Freedom of Expression and Digital Technologies of the Council of Europe. He studies political communication by elites and citizens in comparative perspective, with a particular focus on digital and social media. Augusto Valeriani is Associate Professor in Sociology of Culture and Communication at the Political and Social Sciences Department of the University of Bologna and Director of the Master Program in Digital Marketing and Communication at Bologna Business School (BBS). His research focuses on political communication, digital media, and journalism studies. He has authored articles published in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication; New Media and Society; International Journal of Press/Politics; Information, Communication and Society; Current Sociology; European Journal of Communication; Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication; and Sage Open.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780190858476
ISBN-10: 0190858478
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: August 13th, 2021
Pages: 302
Language: English
Series: Oxford Studies in Digital Politics