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Participatory inequality across countries: contacting public officials online and offline

Faculty Advisor




contact officials, online political participation, political inequality, cross-national, socioeconomic status, age, gender

Abstract (summary)

The Internet offers low-cost ways to participate in political life, which reduces the motivation required to participate and thus potentially reduces inequalities in participation. I examine online and offline contacting of elected officials using original survey data from Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States collected in 2019 and 2021. Education is a consistent positive predictor of contacting in all countries as well as both modes of contact (online and offline). Income differences are small. Younger people are more likely to contact officials, online and offline, compared to older people. Females are less likely to contact officials, online and offline, compared to males. While political interest, efficacy, online information consumption, and online group ties are believed to lead to more equity in online communication, I do not see strong differences in these variables for online and offline contacting. I conclude by discussing the implications of exclusively online contacting of officials when this form of contact is devalued by elected officials, as well as the implications of participatory inequalities with respect to influencing public policy and access to government services.

Publication Information

Boulianne, S. (2022). Participatory inequality across countries: Contacting public officials online and offline. Social Science Computer Review.


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Attribution (CC BY)