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When SNS use Doesn’t Trigger e-Participation: Case Study of an African Authoritarian Regime
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business. (CERIS, Department of Informatics)
Örebro University, Örebro University School of Business. (CERIS, Department of Informatics)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3713-346X
2015 (English)In: International Journal of E-Politics, ISSN 1947-9131, E-ISSN 1947-914X, Vol. 6, no 2, p. 14-29Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Numerous scholars have concluded that there is a correlation between use of social network sites (SNS), particularlyfor news and information acquisition or community building, and the likelihood for e-Participation.This paper examines how the use of Facebook affects the participative behaviours of individuals active in political and interest organizations and those not active in organized politics. Through focus group discussions involving 56 Ugandans, we conclude that in low internet use, authoritarian contexts, the Civic Voluntarism Model and the benefits Facebook brings to participation in Western democracies are turned on their head. Besides overwhelming detachment from politics, even for politically-inclined citizens, low belief in citizens’ online actions influencing change and fear of reprisals for criticizing an authoritarian president in power for 29 years, severely dulled the appetite for e-Participation. This high cost of participation means Facebook is growing citizens’ civic skills but it is hardly increasing online participation even for politically interested citizens.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Pennsylvania, USA: IGI Global, 2015. Vol. 6, no 2, p. 14-29
Keywords [en]
Authoritarian Regimes, Civic Participation, Civic Voluntarism Model, e-Participation, Facebook, Online Participation, Self-Censorship, SNS, Uganda
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-44458DOI: 10.4018/IJEP.2015040102ISI: 000446487800002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-44458DiVA, id: diva2:807875
Projects
Doctoral studiesAvailable from: 2015-04-24 Created: 2015-04-24 Last updated: 2019-03-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Motivating eParticipation in Authoritarian Countries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Motivating eParticipation in Authoritarian Countries
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can enrich the ways in which citizens participate in civic and political matters. Indeed, many theorists on online participation, or eParticipation, proclaim the potential of digital technologies to empower citizens with convenient ways to participate in democratic processes and to hold leaders to account. However, it is not clear if and how digital technologies, notably social media, can contribute to a more democratic system and engaged public in a country where open expression is limited. This thesis studies Social Networking Sites (SNS) as Information Systems (IS) artefacts, including individuals’ motivation for using them, how their features enable participation - or not - and the impacts of their use in an authoritarian country.

Through personal interviews and focus group discussions in Uganda, this thesis finds that the common enablers of online participation in often-studied, mostly Western democratic countries are rarely translated into the offline world in an authoritarian country with one president for the last 30 years. The thesis proposes ways to increase eParticipation in authoritarian contexts, citing the social accountability sector (where the thesis shows evidence of eParticipation working) as a pathway to greater citizen participation and government responsiveness. Findings also contribute to the Information Systems artefact discourse by illuminating the political, social, technological, and information artefacts in SNS when used for eParticipation. Moreover, the thesis shows how, in contexts with a democracy deficit, resource-based theories such as the Civic Voluntarism Model (CVM) fall short in explaining what motivates political participation. It also explains how social networks contain the various constitutive aspects of the IS artefact – social, technical, informational and political - and how these various aspects need to be aligned for eParticipation to work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university, 2016. p. 143
Series
Örebro Studies in Informatics ; 11
Keywords
Civic voluntarism, IS artefact, Uganda, eParticipation, citizen participation, social networking sites, authoritarian regime, ICT4D
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-48179 (URN)978-91-7529-136-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-28, Hörsalen, Musikhögskolan, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-02-10 Created: 2016-02-10 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved

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Wakabi, WairagalaGrönlund, Åke

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