Social Activism

Josh Pasek, Eian More, and Daniel Romer suggests that there has been emerging evidence that suggest Internet use has the potential to build social capital.  There has been emerging evidence that propose politically knowledgeable, interpersonally trusting and civically engaged individuals share similar patterns of Internet use (2).  Their research examines website use that induces site-specific culture that can either encourage or hinder social capital.  They found that differences between social networking sites put forward that they may have some ability to encourage social capital, for example Facebook users demonstrated greater political knowledge and civic engagement while Myspace users had lower knowledge were also less trusting of others (19).  I believe that political activism on certain social networking sites can elicit social activism because any awareness of crises can strike thoughts and conversations about something that would have never be spoken about prior.  This could potentially lead to activist groups or donations from differing people.   

However, Pasek’s, More’s and Romer’s findings do not correlate with David Karpf’s argument.  Karpf examines how social media provides additional tools for candidates and political organizations.  However, when researchers focus on technology in the absence of the organizations that use it.  He argues that the most important effects of the candidate’s errors came from the various ways that a new type of political association uses social media techniques to influence politics.  In addition, Karph believes that users of social media networks should remain cautious about putting to much trust in digital mediums.  He does not believe that political activism online can elicit political change (14).  I find it interesting that two similar research questions can have such differing and opposing results.  On one hand, Pasek, More, and Romer found that certain media sites demonstrate more civic engagement while Karpf finds that we should not trust the Internet for all political campaigns. 

Besides the opposing beliefs of these prior researchers, another important aspect to keep in mind are the online “filter bubbles” that Eli Pariser talked about in a Ted Talk.  In correlation with Pasek, More and Romer, I believe that with the help of these “filter bubbles” Internet use has even more of a potential to build social capital because audiences and users are exposed to things that they already have interest in.  Do you think the “filter bubbles” described by Pariser are beneficial or detrimental? 

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About remysarhan

University of Michigan '13 College of Literature, Science & the Arts Communications Concentration President, Chaldean American Student Association 248.798.5666 | rsarhan@umich.edu
This entry was posted in Winter 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

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