Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
POLITICAL SCIENCE SEMINAR
Does Social Media Promote Civic Activism?
A Field Experiment with a Civic Campaign
(University of Mannheim)
Thursday, October 22, 2015
13:00 FASS 2034
Do social media promote civic activism? Many features of social media such as the ability to identify like-minded people, to spread information and to attract supporters for actions, suggest that it should be a good instrument for promoting civic activism. Casual observations, from pro-democracy protests and elsewhere, suggest this is the case. We conduct a field experiment to study the effects of social media. We select a random sample of 3000 respondents in Bulgaria, and randomly assign some subjects to a group receiving an encouragement to like a Facebook page devoted to the preservation of a threatened natural resource. We encourage another group to sign up for an email newsletter promoting the same campaign. Our remaining respondents constitute the control group. In a survey distributed two months later, we probe respondents’ attitudes about the effectiveness of civic action. Our results are twofold. Whereas we find that Facebook draws activists and supporters of the cause to the campaign, it does not affect their attitudes or behaviors, as compared to the control or newsletter groups.
P.S.: The seminar will be held in English.