Generational Differences in Information Technology Use and Political Involvement

Generational Differences in Information Technology Use and Political Involvement

Mack C. Shelley (Iowa State University, USA), Lisa E. Thrane (Wichita State University, USA) and Stuart W. Shulman (University of Pittsburgh, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/jegr.2006010103
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A structural equation model analysis of data from a 2003 national random sample survey (n = 478) on informational technology (IT) reveals important direct and indirect effects of generational demographic and attitudinal differences on electronic forms of political participation. Younger respondents reported more support for IT and fewer technological disadvantages compared to older respondents. Younger respondents showed more desire for public IT availability and e-political participation, whereas older respondents preferred traditional electoral involvement. The more educated held more favorable views of IT generally and of public IT access more specifically. Better-educated respondents were more active civically in both traditional and electronic forms of participation. Supportive technological views led to greater e-political participation and stronger interest in e-elections. Respondents with less concern and fear about IT were more likely to act as digital citizens and were more involved in e-politics and e-elections. Proponents of public IT access were more supportive of e-elections. Our model suggests that e-citizenry will compound existing societal divisions, as non-electronic voices are marginalized and electronic voices are amplified.

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