Digital citizens and democratic engagement
Digital citizens and democratic participation: An analysis of how
citizens participate online and connect with MPs and Parliament -
shows that for Britons who are already online, the internet has made it
easier to take part in civic and political activities and that half of
them prefer to use the internet to take part in democratic life.
With over two thirds of the British population online, this report
explores how people use the internet to connect with their elected
representatives and also the trends in online digital engagement across
civic and political life. The research draws on two samples. The first
was a national survey of individuals who were already online and the
second was a sample of ‘digital leaders' -people with a strong interest
in social media and politics. The first group demonstrated how Britons
currently use the internet to participate in politics and civic life and
the second group identified trends for future and developing
- 70% of respondents agree that the internet makes
it easier for them to participate in civic and political activities
- 49% agree that they would generally prefer to use
the internet to participate in civic and political activities
- Age is not a barrier to digital engagement when
it comes to contacting one's elected representative
- People aged 55-64 are the age group most likely
to contact their MP online (54% did so), and people aged 18-34 were more
likely to use the telephone (including mobiles and texting) than any other
Among the digital leaders
group, the majority (69%) used the internet or email to contact their MP. They
use websites, Twitter and blogs to contact or keep informed about their MP.
They would most like to see MPs embracing online tools that allow for
conversation and opportunities to engage with citizens. Finally, the group
wanted accurate, up-to-date, available information and open data standards
which would make data accessible for individuals and groups to use.
Andy Williamson, Director of the Hansard Society
eDemocracy Programme, and author of Digital citizens and democratic participation: An
analysis of how citizens participate online and connect with MPs and Parliament commented: ‘Citizens do not want the passive,
broadcast-only relationship with their MPs that has existed until now, they
wish to communicate and engage, to track and contribute to the democratic
debate. Higher levels of engagement and wider participation in the democratic
process will happen when citizens feel that they are a central part of it. This
presents a challenge for Parliament - both for MPs and the House authorities.'
Download the full report here...