Internet Accessibility and Usage in Relation to Political Participation and Knowledge

April 11, 2021   /  

Name: Nia Johnson
Major: United States, Political Science
Advisor: Dr. Avi Muñoz

This Independent Study investigates the effect of internet access and usage on political participation and knowledge. My first hypothesis states that as internet access and internet use increase so will voters’ knowledge about national politics. Furthermore, my second hypothesis states that as internet access and internet use increase so will voters’ participation in national politics. After conducting a public survey through Mechanical Turk, I ran a multivariate regression analysis to test my hypothesis and my findings suggest that internet access and usage do impact political participation and knowledge.

Nia will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST: 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

24 thoughts on “Internet Accessibility and Usage in Relation to Political Participation and Knowledge”

  1. Congratulations, Nia. What an important subject, made even more timely during the pandemic + national election cycle.

    1. Thank You, Professor Lantis! This research topic was in part inspired by the current state of the world in the midst of this pandemic, events during the national election, and especially the heavy reliance on technology during this moment in time.

  2. Thank you for sharing your work with us, Nia! Well done, you have a lot to be proud of. Posselove.

  3. Congratulations, Nia! I’m so excited that you tackled this question, especially as it seemed that this topic has not been very heavily studied in the U.S. context. You mention that there is not one singular definition of the digital divide–now that you’re an expert in the subject, how would you define the digital divide?

    1. Thank you, Emma! I would define the digital divide as a combination of unequal accessibility to stable internet connections as well as unequal or varying levels of internet usage. In regard to internet usage, it is also significant to define the digital divide in the context of divisions with how the internet is utilized today or for what purposes.

  4. Nia, congratulations again on a great project! In the midst of the pandemic students across the country bore the brunt of the country’s digital inequalities and I appreciate that your project asks us to consider how technologies mediate our understanding and engagement of the political world. Kudos!

  5. Wonderful and important project Nia! What was the biggest surprise you encountered when going through your analysis?

    1. Thank you!! There were many surprising findings in my analysis. One interesting finding was that increased use of the internet for political purposes was a contributor to respondents’ participation in national elections. However, simply an increased number of hours* for web use was not significant to voting (in the 2020 and future elections). From these findings involving national voting, I can conclude that those who increasingly interact with more political matters online are driven to participate more in the political process (in regard to voting). In this case, it is not that you use the internet, rather than what you use it for.

  6. This is such a great project, Nia! I think it has a lot of important things to contribute to the current discussion of broadband service as infrastructure.

    I hope you’re doing well, and congrats on finishing up your IS!!

  7. Nia,
    What an interesting subject. Your hypotheses were right on point. You are just about at the finish line! You go PolySci Grad!! Love you to pieces!!

    Grammy & GG

  8. What an awesome job, Nia! Excellent research topic. I could not be more proud of you. Hard work truly pays off. Congratulations!

    Love you,

  9. Amazing job Nia! This is such an interesting topic to explore. I wonder how we can use this knowledge to better improve access to knowledge and communication to the general public. I’m all for creating new forms of communication, everyone deserves to have access to the knowledge needed to make an informed decision!

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