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What makes people engage in civic activism on social media?

Hyehyun Hong (Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Yeuseung Kim (Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 19 January 2021

Issue publication date: 10 May 2021

1495

Abstract

Purpose

Given the profound impact of social media on civic activism, as demonstrated by the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements, the current study aimed to examine the factors that influence the public to engage in civic activism on social media platforms.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used the responses from 4,316 social media users who participated in the 2018 American Trends Survey (Wave 35) conducted by Pew Research Center. The dataset was analyzed using hierarchical regression.

Findings

The results suggest that respondents who were younger, female, White and liberal were more likely to participate in activism-related behaviors, such as using hashtags, changing profile pictures and participating in groups with shared interests in political and social issues. Respondents' engagement in online civic activism increased particularly when they had a strong motive for expressing and sharing their opinions. In contrast, external online political efficacy – the belief that social media influences policymaking and decision makers – was not significantly associated with activism engagement on social media.

Originality/value

This study identified key demographic characteristics of social media users who participate in online civic activism. In addition, the findings extend previous lines of inquiry by examining and assessing the impact of external online political efficacy and opinion expression motive. We conclude that individuals engage in civic activism on social media mainly because they find it important to express views on political and social issues and to find others who share these views, as opposed to thinking that social media can be used to exert influence on policy decisions.

Keywords

Citation

Hong, H. and Kim, Y. (2021), "What makes people engage in civic activism on social media?", Online Information Review, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 562-576. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-03-2020-0105

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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