Profiling the Citizens Based on Their Offline and Online Political Participation Level

Profiling the Citizens Based on Their Offline and Online Political Participation Level

Süphan Nasır, Onur Şahin, Merve Kır
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4543-3.ch010
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Political participation is an important component of democracy. The aim of this study is to reveal the tendency of citizens' offline and online political participation. As a result of factor analysis, active participation, civic participation, and passive participation are determined as the dimensions of offline political participation. Political participation on social media is determined as two dimensions which are slacktivism and following up. Cluster analysis was used to identify political participation typologies based on the dimensions of offline and online political participation. Four clusters were identified, namely politicized citizens, politically mindful citizens, politically concerned followers, and apolitical citizens. Politicized citizens explicitly express their political tendencies without any hesitation. Politically mindful citizens are aware of the manipulative power of social media so that they do not actively participate politics on social media. Politically concerned citizens only follow political issues passively, and finally, apolitical citizens do not have an interest in politics.
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Political participation has recently become an important topic all over the world because low rates of participation means that only the freewill of a small group is reflected within the political system and the rest of the citizens' thoughts are ignored. Thus, political participation is at the heart of democracy and democracy is unthinkable without the ability of citizens to participate freely in politics. Democracy provides the opportunity to citizens participate in decision making process (Van Deth, 2016, p. 2).

The public's ability to select those who govern them and to influence the decisions taken are considered essential component of democracy. Although using the right to vote and selecting the politicians who govern the public is seen as essential for democracy, but it is not sufficient to maintain democracy. Thus, from this perspective representative democracy has been criticized. For well-established democracy, people have to be included in the decision making process of governors. The concept of participatory democracy gains importance, which emphasized the significance of establishing different ways for inclusion of people into governance processes.

Participative democracy model allows citizens to influence political decision making processes and it puts greater emphasis on citizen participation compares to representative democracy. Participatory democracy is primarily concerned with ensuring that citizens are given the opportunity to be involved in decision making on matters that affect their lives (De Vos et al., 2014). Participative democracy defined as “process of collective decision making that combines elements from both direct and representative democracy and citizens have the power to decide on policy proposals and politicians assume the role of policy implementation” and the main advantage of participation democracy is that it has more reasonable policy implementation mechanism than direct democracy (Aragones & Sanchez-Pages, 2008). Considering the democratic deficiency in representative democracy model, participatory democracy is seen between direct and representative democracy. It encourages greater citizen involvement, social empowerment, and egalitarian social relations.

Political participation is one of the most influential mechanism by which individuals influence the decisions that may affect their lives. Since individuals possess equal worth in democracies, the preferences and interests of all citizens, who are subject to the decision, have to be equally considered while making collective decisions. It is assumed that individuals know best their own interests, so these preferences must be communicated to the political system through participation in politics (Dahl, 1989; Best & Kruger, 2005). Ensuring the political participation is crucial for participative democracy. As Parry et al. (1992) indicated that any book about political participation is also a book about democracy. In other words, the level of citizen participation is a signal for understanding how a democracy operates in a country.

The aim of this study is to reveal the tendency of Turkish citizens offline political participation as well as their political participation on social media, and segmenting the citizens based on their offline and online political participation level.

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