Citizens’ Digital Participation

20 March 2009

People do not necessarily identify their actions as citizen participation, but when we asked them about specific activities, it became apparent that most of them are, in fact, participating as citizens.

The most significant variables that influence levels of participation among the general population sample are socio-economic group, qualifications and age, although internet access and confidence are also important. Citizen participation, both online and offline, was highest among our online user sample. This is partly due to this groups characteristics (e.g. a higher socio-economic group) but also because, as confident online users, they can carry out more citizen participation activities via the internet.

The internet is an important channel for citizen participation, and even more so for related citizen activities. Those with the internet at home displayed higher levels of citizen participation in all groups surveyed, including those living in areas of multiple deprivation.

The internet makes citizen participation easier. This is partly because it saves time, which is one of the main reported barriers to participation, and it seems that the internet is both supplementing and replacing traditional channels for citizen participation. But this may mean that a proportion of the population may become disenfranchised as digital citizen participation and other online related citizen activity grows.

Those living in areas of multiple deprivation generally engage less in citizen participation activities compared to the general population. The main reported barrier to this groups participation is lack of interest, but internet access, lack of awareness, trust and confidence are also barriers to online participation. Those with internet access at home in areas of multiple deprivation exhibit greater levels of citizen participation than those without access. However, people living in areas of multiple deprivation are less likely to know what can be done online, and more likely to question the effectiveness of digital participation.

Full report

Citizens’ Digital Participation : Research Report (PDF, 444.3 KB)
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Citizens’ Digital Participation : Annexes (PDF, 305.1 KB)
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General population tables (PDF, 2.1 MB)

Multiple deprivation tables (PDF, 3.8 MB)

Online sample (PDF, 1.4 MB)