Social networks that matter: Exploring the role of political discussion for online political participation

Sebastián Valenzuela, Yonghwan Kim, Homero Gil De Zúñiga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine the relationship between citizen-to-citizen discussions and online political participation considering various attributes of individuals' social networks: Modality, discussants' ties, diversity of opinions, and quality of argumentation. Using a national survey of U.S. residents we find that communication within networks is a significant predictor of web-based forms of political engagement, after controlling for offline participation, political orientations, news use, and socio-demographics. Consistent with the "strength of weak ties" argument, larger online networks and weak-tie discussion frequency are associated with online participation. While like-minded discussions are positively related to online participation, discussions with people who are not of like mind correlate negatively with it. Online network size and reasoning discussions were positively related to online participation, although these associations were rather weak compared to the role of other network characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-184
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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