Reinforcement effects between digital media use and political participation: a meta-analysis of repeated-wave panel data

Jennifer Oser, Shelley Boulianne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

As digital media use has rapidly increased in prevalence and diversified in form, scholars across the globe have focused extensive attention on how the use of digital media relates to political participation. To assess the results of this emerging body of research, we conduct the first meta-analysis of repeated-wave panel data studies on the relationship between digital media use and political participation. The findings, based on 38 survey-based, repeated-wave panel studies (279 coefficients) bring new evidence to bear on two questions central to this literature. First, the findings provide new insight into the classic mobilization versus reinforcement debate: contrary to common assumption, the findings support a reinforcement effect, whereby those who are already politically active are motivated to use digital media. Second, the results indicate that the relationship between digital media use and political participation is durable, as studies with a longer time lag were more likely to yield positive and significant effects. Taken together, this evidence in support of a durable reinforcement effect implies the potential for digital media use to contribute to increased inequality in political participation over time. In the concluding discussion, we outline directions for further theoretical inquiry and empirical research that leverage the value of repeated-wave panel studies to make causal inferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-365
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Volume84
Issue numberS1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

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