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Working paper

Online News and Protest Participation in a Political Context: Evidence from Self-Reported Cross-Sectional Data

Nora A. Kirkizh, Olessia Y. Koltsova.
The availability of alternative information via online news sources is often said to induce social discontent, especially in states, where traditional media are under state control. But does this relation really exist, and is it universal? In contrast to previous studies, where generalized Internet use is treated as a proxy for online news consumption and general political participation is a proxy for protest participation, we render a test of relationship specifically between online news and protest participation. We explore survey data from WVS for 48 nations in 2010-2014. The analysis provides evidence that the likelihood of individual protest participation is positively associated with online news consumption. The study also shows that the magnitude of the effect varies depending upon the political context: surprisingly, despite supposedly unlimited control offline as well as online media, autocratic countries demonstrated higher effects of online news than transitional regimes, where the Internet media are relatively uninhibited.