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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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23

Digital Democracy

How the Internet Has Changed Politics

Leticia Bode, Stephanie Edgerly, Ben Sayre, Emily K. Vraga, and Dhavan V. Shah

ABSTRACT

Over the past two decades, the Internet has increasingly become part of the everyday life of US citizens. This chapter considers the impact of the growing use of the Internet on media use and political behaviors. Specifically it addresses the theoretical, practical, and empirical consequences of various uses of the Internet for sociability, social capital, online formats of news and politics, political blogs, online public spheres, and political messaging. We further consider the emergence of online spaces as sources for information and social interaction, and the implications of these spaces for democracy. Highlighted in this discussion is the advent of social media (e.g., blogs, Facebook, YouTube), and the corresponding development of new spaces in which citizens may “do” politics.

Using the Internet

Over the past two decades, the Internet has increasingly become part of the everyday life of US citizens. Seventy-one percent now report using the Internet on a daily basis, and their activity online is no longer limited to emailing and checking NCAA scores (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2009). Citizens are using the Internet in new ways: to find information and products, to entertain themselves, and to communicate with others in ways that extend beyond email. And with each passing year, the Internet offers more opportunities ...

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