What’s the Bandwidth for Democracy? Deconstructing Internet Penetration and Citizen Attitudes About Governance

Elizabeth Stoycheff*, Erik C. Nisbet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent world events have highlighted the democratic potential of information and communication technologies. This article draws upon the democracy literature to develop a multilevel conceptual framework that links country-level Internet penetration and individual-level Internet use to citizen attitudes about governance in 34 developing countries. In doing so, it deconstructs “Internet penetration” into three dimensions—hardware (e.g., computers), users, and broadband—to provide greater theoretical specificity about how Internet diffusion leads citizens to adopt democratic attitudes. Results from multilevel analyses indicate that individual Internet use and the diffusion of Internet hardware shape citizens’ perceptions of the supply of democracy in their countries, and individual Internet use and diffusion of broadband lead citizens to adopt stronger democratic preferences. Theoretical and normative implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)628-646
Number of pages19
JournalPolitical Communication
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 13 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • broadband
  • cross-national
  • democracy
  • ICT use
  • Internet penetration
  • multilevel
  • public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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