In Contact with the Internet: An Examination of Citizens Contacting Government both Online and Offline

Dr. Lori Weber
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Only recently have scholars been able to begin examining the effect of the Internet on political participation, most notably voter participation. Moreover, there is little systematic research on the new avenues that the Internet provides for political participation, such as the recent success of online contributing experienced by the organization, The 2003 Pew E-Government survey provides useful data on citizens' contacting behavior both on and offline, and, to date, no scholar has utilized this data to examine this unique type of political participation online. Consequently, this paper proposes to use the 2003 Pew E-Government survey to present a description and analysis of contacting behavior of citizens online. Questions that this paper will explore include: 1) What are the demographics of those who contact online? 2) Are those who contact offline more likely to contact government online? 3) How is online contacting similar or different from contacting government the old fashioned way? And, 4) What are the implications for the digital divide?

Keywords: Internet, Political Participation, Contacting Government, Digital Divide
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Lori Weber

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, California State University, Chico

Lori M. Weber received her Ph.D. from University of Colorado at Boulder and is currently an assistant professor at California State University, Chico. Her research interests are political participation, deliberative democratic theory, electronic democracy, political tolerance and hate politics. Professor Weber teaches political methodology and public opinion courses. She received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Dissertation Enhancement award for her dissertation on "The Effects of Democratic Deliberation on Political Tolerance." She has published several book chapters on the 1992 Perot movement and the Reform Party. She also has published articles in scholarly journals on political participation, deliberative democracy, and electronic democracy. Currently, Professor Weber is part of a research team at the Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University that seeks to develop and test software that would enable large numbers of citizens to use the Internet more effectively to learn about, deliberate and act upon community issues. The "Virtual Agora Project" — named for the ancient Athenian marketplace and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation — seeks to identify how information technology can best be used to support "electronic democracy" and to demonstrate the value of computer-mediated communication for building a widespread and inclusive political community.

Ref: T05P0167