C39 Rice, R.E. & Katz, J.E. (2003). The Internet and political involvement in 1996 and 2000. In P. Howard & G. Jones (Eds.), Society online: The Internet in context (pp. 103-120). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


This chapter provides an overview of recent results on the relationship between Internet use and the Digital Divide, community involvement, and social interaction, from nationally representative telephone surveys we conducted in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2000.  The chapter then provides specific results on the relationship between Internet use and political activity, using our 1996 data, and 1996 and the 2000 data from the Pew Internet and American Life surveys.  The detailed analyses reported here were guided by four major questions: (1) Do Internet users differ from non-users in terms of their level of traditional forms (i.e., offline) of political activity? (2) Do long-term users of the Internet differ from other Internet users? (3) In what sorts of online political activities do Internet users engage, and how much is that engagement explained by demographic variables? (4) How do Internet users feel that this new technology has affected their political information and activities?  Overall, it seems that the Internet has had a mild positive impact on political activity during the 1996 and 2000 elections.  Thus, rather than the Internet diminishing traditional forms of political activity, it is associated with somewhat greater traditional as well as new political activities.

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