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Alina Östling @AlinaOstling Fighting for your fundamental rights online and offline. How inclusive is digital activism? La lluita pels teus drets bàsics online i offline. Com és d’inclusiu l’activisme digital? La lucha por tus derechos básicos online y offline. ¿Cuán inclusivo es el activismo digital?


Alina Östling

My research • Online user surveys: – my own – Escher (2011), – Whyte et al. (2005) – Åström & Sedelius (2010)

Geographic coverage • Sweden


• UK • France • Italy S

Local/national projects Parliamentary monitoring


Example of a PM project

Inclusiveness? • Women: – 16-34 % parliamentary monitoring – 35-38% e-petitioning

Inclusiveness? Lower-educated: ~20 % fewer

Inclusiveness? Age: – high average: ~45 – under-25: consistently underrepresented

Inclusiveness? • Persons with disability: – Generally underrepresented, esp. in e-petitioning

Experience & skills Already politically active

Advanced digital skills more than their co-nationals

In sum • ‘Reinforcement’ thesis: empowering the already empowered • Less inclusive than other, offline, forms contact media or politicians, demonstrate (Eurostat, ESS)

On the bright side… • Stimulus for learning & deeper engagement • Those who DO engage: – Better understanding of politics (up to 80%) – More interested (up to 78%)

On the bright side… • Stimulus to participation • 40-50% never engaged online before • Up to 98% are more prone to participate in the future

Conclusion • The hype about participation for all and direct democracy is over • Digital activism projects are not quick fixes, but complex processes of social change

Digital activism is: An opportunity: – to revive citizens’ trust in political institutions; now very low (Rosanvallon 2008; Morlino 2009; Eurobarometer 2012) – offering alternative means of participation

A threat: if equality is not addressed, an elite will dominate also online politics

Thank you!

Östling - European University Institute  

How inclusive is digital activism?

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