The Contemporary Challenges of Measuring Political Participation

Keywords: Political participation, Measuring political participation, Research methods, Measurement challenges

Abstract

The multifaceted nature of political participation has led to various ways of measuring it. This, in turn, has led to conflicting outcomes (even when applied to the same problem) in the research field. What are the contemporary challenges of measuring political participation? The main objective of this paper is to identify current challenges of measuring political participation that are common in the existing literature and empirical findings. This review paper examines different methods of measuring both online and offline political participation and shows current problems that are crucial to deal with methodological challenges in the emerging era of Web 3.0. Drawing from a careful analysis of 86 published (2012–2019) empirical research on new media and political participation, the present study finds that self-reported measures, different question-wordings, misuse of Likert scales and time frames, and the lack of clear concept of political participation are current problems of measuring political participation. In so doing, it contributes to research on political participation (1) attempting to gather various measurements and their common problems as well as (2) urging the importance of these challenges.

References

ADELSON, J. L., MCCOACH, D. B. (2010). Measuring the Mathematical Attitudes of Elementary Students: The Effects of a 4-Point or 5-Point Likert-Type Scale. In: Educational and Psychological Measurement. Vol. 70, No. 5, 2010, pp. 796-807.
ALMOND, G. A., VERBA, S. (1963). The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963.
BAEK, K. (2018). The Geographic Dimension of Citizenship in Digital Activism: Analysis of the Relationships Among Local and Global Citizenship, the Use of Social Networking Sites, and Participation in the Occupy Movement. In: American Behavioral Scientist. Vol. 62, No. 8, 2018, pp. 1138-1156.
CANTIJOCH, M., CUTTS, D., GIBSON, R. (2016a). Moving Slowly up the Ladder of Political Engagement: A ‘Spill-over’ Model of Internet Participation. In: The British Journal of Politics and International Relations. Vol. 18, No. 1, 2016, pp. 26-48.
CANTIJOCH, M., GALANDINI, S., GIBSON, R. (2016b). ‘It’s Not About Me, It’s About My Community’: A Mixed-Method Study of Civic Websites and Community Efficacy. In: New Media & Society. Vol. 18, No. 9, 2016, pp. 1896-1915.
CANTIJOCH, M. C., CUTTS, D., GIBSON, R. (2018). Does Mode Matter? Measuring the Effects of Different Types of Online Political Engagement on Offline Participation. In: Comunicação Mídia e Consumo. Vol. 15, No. 43, 2018, pp. 10-40.
CHAN, M., CHEN, H-T., LEE, F. L. F. (2017). Examining the Roles of Mobile and Social Media in Political Participation: A Cross-National Analysis of Three Asian Societies Using a Communication Mediation Approach. In: New Media & Society. Vol. 19, No. 12, 2017, pp. 2003-2021.
CHEN, Z., CHAN, M. (2017). Motivations for Social Media Use and Impact on Political Participation in China: A Cognitive and Communication Mediation Approach. In: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Vol. 20, No. 2, 2017, pp. 83-90.
CHOI, Y., KWON, G. (2019). New Forms of Citizen Participation Using SNS: An Empirical Approach. In: Quality & Quantity. Vol. 53, No. 1, 2019, pp. 1-17.
COFFE, H., CAMPBELL, R. (2017). Understanding the Link between Citizens’ Political Engagement and Their Definitions of ‘Political’ Activities. In: The 2017 ECPR general conference. [online]. Oslo: The European Consortium for Political Research. Available at: https://ecpr.eu/Evets/PaperDetails.aspx?PaperID=35076&EventID=96 [Accessed October 21, 2018].
CONROY, M., FEEZELL, J. T., GUERRERO M. (2012). Facebook and Political Engagement: A Study of Online Political Group Membership and Offline Political Engagement. In: Computers in Human Behavior. Vol. 28, No. 5, 2012, pp. 1535-1546.
DALTON, R. J. (2017). The Participation Gap: Social Status and Political Inequality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
DETH, J. (1986). A Note on Measuring Political Participation in Comparative Research. In: Quality and Quantity. Vol. 20, No. 2, 1986, pp. 261-272.
DEUTSCH, K. (1961). Social Mobilization and Political Development. In: The American Political Science Review. Vol. 55, No. 3, 1961, pp. 493-514.
DIMITROVA, D. V., SHEHATA, A., STRÖMBÄCK, J., NORD, L. W. (2014). The Effects of Digital Media on Political Knowledge and Participation in Election Campaigns: Evidence From Panel Data. In: Communication Research. Vol. 41, No. 1, 2014, pp. 95-118.
DIMITROVA, D. V., MATTHES, J. (2018). Social Media in Political Campaigning Around the World: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges. In: Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Vol. 95, No. 2, 2018, pp. 333-342.
EDER, C., STADELMANN-STEFFEN, I. (2017). Measuring Political Participation. In: The 2017 ECPR General Conference. Oslo: The European Consortium for Political Research. [online]. Available at: https://ecpr.eu/Events/SectionDetails.aspx?SectionID=634&EventID=96 [Accessed October 21. 2018].
GAIDYTĖ, T., KLANDERMANS, B. (2017). Typologies of political participation: How and Why Political Behavior Differs Across the World? In: The 2017 ECPR General Conference. Oslo: The European Consortium for Political Research. [online]. Available at: https://ecpr.eu/Events/PaperDetails.aspx?PaperID=36990&EventID=96 [Accessed October 21, 2018].
GIBSON, R., CANTIJOCH, M. (2013). Conceptualizing and Measuring Participation in the Age of the Internet: Is Online Political Engagement Really Different to Offline? In: The Journal of Politics. Vol. 75, No. 3, 2013, pp. 701-716.
GOROSHIT, M. (2016). Political Participation: A Latent Variable Approach Testing Measurement Equivalence of Political Participation Using ESS Data. In: Eurasian Journal of Social Sciences. Vol. 4, No. 1, 2016, pp. 26-38.
GREULING, K., KILIAN, T. (2014). Motives for Active Participation in Political Blogs: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Eight German Blogs. In: Social Science Computer Review. Vol. 32, No. 2, 2014, pp. 221-237.
HENN, M., OLDFIELD, B., HART, J. (2018). Postmaterialism and Young People’s Political Participation in a Time of Austerity. In: The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 69, No. 3, 2018, pp. 712-737.
INKELES, A. (1969). Participant Citizenship in Six Developing Countries. In: The American Political Science Review. Vol. 63, No. 4, 1969, pp. 1120-1141.
IVALDI, E., BONATTI, G., SOLIANI, R. (2017). An Indicator for the Measurement of Political Participation: The Case of Italy. In: Social Indicators Research. Vol. 132, No. 2, 2017, pp. 605-620.
KALAYCIOGLU, E., TURAN, I. (1981). Measuring Political Participation: A Cross-Cultural Application. In: Comparative Political Studies. Vol. 14, No. 1, 1981, pp. 123-135.
KILYBAYEVA, S., NASSIMOVA, G., MASSALIMOVA, A. (2017). The Kazakhstani Youth’s Engagement in Politics. In: Studies of Transition States and Societies, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2017, pp. 53-71.
LITTLE, D. (1976). Mass Political Participation in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R: A Conceptual Analysis. In: Comparative Political Studies. Vol. 8, No. 4, 1976, pp. 437-460.
LU, Y., HEATHERLY, K. A., LEE J. K. (2016). Cross-Cutting Exposure on Social Networking Sites: The Effects of SNS Discussion Disagreement on Political Participation. In: Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 59, 2016. pp. 74-81. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.01.030.
MILBRATH L. W. (1965) Political Participation: How and Why Do People Get Involved in Politics? Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1965.
MOELLER, J., KÜHNE, R., DE VREESE, C. (2018). ‘Mobilizing Youth in the 21st Century: How Digital Media Use Fosters Civic Duty, Information Efficacy, and Political Participation. In: Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. Vol. 62, No. 3, 2018, pp. 445-460.
NAH, S., YAMAMOTO, M. (2018). Rethinking Digital Media and Citizenship: Conditions, Contexts, and Consequences. In: American Behavioral Scientist. Vol. 62, No. 8, 2018, pp. 1019-1021.
OSER, J. (2017). Assessing How Participators Combine Acts in Their “Political Tool Kits”: A Person-Centered Measurement Approach for Analyzing Citizen Participation. In: Social Indicators Research. Vol. 133, No. 1, 2017, pp. 235-258.
OSER, J., HOOGHE, M. (2018). Democratic Ideals and Levels of Political Participation: The Role of Political and Social Conceptualisations of Democracy. In: The British Journal of Politics and International Relations. Vol. 20, No. 3, 2018, pp. 711-730.
PARK, C. (2015). Pathways to Expressive and Collective Participation: Usage Patterns, Political Efficacy, and Political Participation in Social Networking Sites. In: Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. Vol. 59, No. 4, 2015, pp. 698-716.
PATEMAN, C. (1970). Participation and Democratic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
PERSSON, M., SOLEVID, M. (2014). Measuring Political Participation—Testing Social Desirability Bias in a Web-Survey Experiment. In: International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Vol. 26, No. 1, 2014, pp. 98-112.
ROLFE, M. (2012). Voter Turnout: A Social Theory of Political Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
RUCHT, D. (2007). The Spread of Protest Politics. In: DALTON R.J., KLINGEMANN H-D. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Political Behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 708–723.
SAIRAMBAY, Y. (2020). Reconceptualising Political Participation. In: Human Affairs, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2020, pp. 120-127.
SAUNDERS, C. (2014). Anti-politics in action? Measurement Dilemmas in the Study of Unconventional Political Participation. In: Political Research Quarterly. Vol. 67, No. 3, 2014, pp. 574-588.
SHEPPARD, J. (2015). Measuring Online and Offline Participation: Problems and Solutions from the Australian Case. In: The European Survey Research Association Annual Conference. [online]. Available at: http://www.jillsheppard.net/papers/ [Accessed October 29, 2018].
STOKER, G., SMITH G., SAUNDERS C., MASON A., MCGHEE D., OWEN D., BANYA M., MCGREW T. (2011). Prospects for Citizenship. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011.
STRÖMBÄCK, J., FALASCA, K., KRUIKEMEIER, S. (2018). The Mix of Media Use Matters: Investigating the Effects of Individual News Repertoires on Offline and Online Political Participation. In: Political Communication. Vol. 35, No. 3, 2018, pp. 413-432.
THEOCHARIS, Y., LOWE, W. (2015). Does Facebook Increase Political Participation? Evidence from a Field Experiment. In: Information, Communication & Society. Vol. 19, No. 10, 2015, pp. 1-22.
THEOCHARIS, Y., VAN DETH, J. W. (2018). Political Participation in a Changing World: Conceptual and Empirical Challenges in the Study of Citizen Engagement. New York and London: Routledge, 2018.
TOWNER, T. L., LOWE, C. L. (2018). Baby Boom or Bust? the New Media Effect on Political Participation. In: Journal of Political Marketing. Vol. 17, No. 1, 2018, pp. 32-61.
TSANG, K. K. (2012). The Use of Midpoint on Likert Scale: The Implications for Educational Research. In: Hong Kong Teachers’ Centre Journal. Vol. 11, 2012, pp. 121-130.
VALENZUELA, S., CORREA, T., GIL DE ZÚÑIGA, H. (2018). Ties, Likes, and Tweets: Using Strong and Weak Ties to Explain Differences in Protest Participation Across Facebook and Twitter Use. In: Political Communication. Vol. 35, No. 1, 2018, pp. 117-134.
VAN DETH, J. W. (2014). A Conceptual Map of Political Participation. In: Acta Politica. Vol. 49, No. 3, 2014, pp. 349–367.
VERBA, S., NIE, N. (1987). Participation in America: Political Democracy and Social Equality. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
WHITELEY, P. (2012). Political Participation in Britain: The Decline and Revival of Civic Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
WOLFSFELD, G., YARCHI, M., SAMUEL-AZRAN, T. (2016). Political Information Repertoires and Political Participation. In: New Media & Society. Vol. 18, No. 9, 2016, pp. 2096-2115.
YAMAMOTO, M., NAH, S. (2018). Mobile Information Seeking and Political Participation: A Differential Gains Approach with Offline and Online Discussion Attributes. In: New Media & Society. Vol. 20, No. 5, 2018, pp. 2070-2090.
ZHANG, X., LIN, W. (2018). Hanging Together or Not? Impacts of Social Media Use and Organisational Membership on Individual and Collective Political Actions. In: International Political Science Review. Vol. 39, No. 2, 2018, pp. 273-289.
Published
2020-12-31
How to Cite
Sairambay, Y. (2020, December 31). The Contemporary Challenges of Measuring Political Participation. Slovak Journal of Political Sciences, 20(2), 206-226. Retrieved from https://sjps.fsvucm.sk/index.php/sjps/article/view/164