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Thank you Wainer Lusoli <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> for sending this
along.  If you have new papers, studies and the like, be sure to send
in your abstracts, summaries, and web addresses for potential
distribution on do-wire: [EMAIL PROTECTED]

Steven Clift
Democracies Online


Full paper:

More papers including the recent "Online Campaigning in the UK: The
Public Respond?":


Politicians and pressure groups are much more likely to engage young
people in politics through the Internet than more traditional methods,
according to new ESRC-funded research. The research, which was carried
out by NOP as part of the ESRC's Democracy and Participation Research
Programme, showed that 15-24 year olds are three times more likely to
be politically active through the Internet than traditional political

There has been much concern that only 40 per cent of 18-24 year olds
voted in the 2001 general election. Dr Stephen Ward, Project Director
and Lecturer in Politics, said: "Politicians are worried about the low
turnout and supposed political apathy among young people. This
research should be studied closely by parties and pressure groups keen
to engage them with politics."

The survey also found that campaigning still benefits from the
personal touch, with internet users more willing to respond to emailed
political messages passed on by friends. When political messages are
emailed by friends, only 10 per cent would ignore them, compared to 29
per cent who would skip impersonal 'spam' political emails.

Most of those who have used the net to contact a political
organisation  63 per cent  say they would not have done so had they
had to rely on the telephone or the post. And 40 per cent of those
receiving political emails respond to them positively with a further
24 per cent occasionally reading them.

Thirty per cent of those who contacted a political organisation online
become more interested and involved afterwards. Internet users are 22
per cent more likely to engage in political discussion and 8 per cent
more likely to contact political figures than those who don't use the
net. Yet, only 15 per cent of online users have ever heard of any
online political campaigns. And those few who did were most likely to
have come across anti-capitalist protests like May Day Monopoly or
Global Resistance.

Despite more women going online and increasing internet use across all
social classes over the last year, online political participation is
still strongest among those with higher education and incomes. AB and
C1 internet users are more likely to engage in online political
activity than more traditional politics. The reverse is true for C2
and DE users

However, young people are more politically active on the Internet. 30
per cent of young people aged 15-24 say they engage in online
political activity, compared to 10 per cent who had participated in
more traditional politics. The internet also wins out for those aged
25-34, with 28 per cent participating online, compared to 18 per cent
offline. By contrast, only one per cent of the over-65s has taken part
online, compared to 20 per cent offline.

Furthermore, nearly half of all internet users say they have looked
for political information on the web, with 29 per cent claiming to
have visited the site of a political organisation. Nearly a quarter
have emailed their MP or councillor.

Dr Ward added: "While most political organisations are online, they
are failing to tap its growing potential to get their message across.
Yet with over half the population now online, there is a surprisingly
strong appetite for political information. The Internet may not
revolutionise political participation, but it can make a difference
especially with young people.

"So far, most political organisations have been slow to develop their
use of new technologies to engage the public. Unless politicians and
political organisations start to use the technology creatively, the
participation gap will widen in Britain".

For further information, contact: Stephen Ward 0161 295 5126 or 07986
271856. email:[EMAIL PROTECTED]

Or Iain Stewart or Lesley Lilley, ESRC External Relations, telephone
01793 413032/413119.

Copies of the report are available at http://www.ipop.org.uk or via
email from [EMAIL PROTECTED]

NOP surveyed 1,972 adults aged over 15 during May 2002

The survey is part of a wider study of the impact of the Internet on
political organisations and participation in the UK being conducted by
Rachel Gibson, Stephen Ward and Wainer Lusoli at the European Studies
Research Institute, University of Salford. Funded by the Economic and
Social Research Council, as part of its Democracy and Participation
Research Programme, (http://www.essex.ac.uk/democracy) the study
examines how political parties, pressure groups, new social movements
and ad hoc protest groups use the Internet to communicate with their
existing supporters and to reach new constituencies.

The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and
postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It has a
track record of providing high-quality, relevant research to business,
the public sector and Government. The ESRC invests more than 53
million every year in social science research. At any time, its range
of funding schemes may be supporting 2,000 researchers within academic
institutions and research policy institutes. It also funds
postgraduate training within the social sciences, thereby nurturing
the researchers of tomorrow. The ESRC website address is

REGARD is the ESRC's database of research. It provides a key source of
information on ESRC social science research awards and all associated
publications and products. The website can be found at

To view the Government's e-democracy website, visit:

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