Baek, Kanghui (2018). The geographic dimension of citizenship in digital activism: Analysis of the relationships among local and global citizenship, the use of social networking sites, and participation in the Occupy movement. American Behavioral Scientist, 62(8), 1138-1156.
This case study of the Occupy movement examines how different geographic forms of self-perceived citizenship —local and global citizenship—and the use of social networking sites play key roles in political activism in the digital age. Based on an online survey of U.S. participants in the movement, this study found that local and global citizenship had distinct relationships with participation. This suggests that local citizenship is positively related to local participation, while global citizenship is positively related to global participation. In this vein, the use of social networking sites has a positive indirect relationship with both local and global participation through its relationship with local and global citizenship, respectively. This study contributes to the understanding of how the geographic dimension of citizenship fosters democracy via contemporary digital activism by enabling individuals to take part in local and even global collective actions.
Because it is difficult to obtain a random sample of participants in the movement across the United States, a purposive sampling was employed. First, information about the 1,007 U.S.-based Occupy movement communities was retrieved from the Occupy Directory. Second, only those communities that had their own Facebook page or website were selected, and, thus, 492 communities were generated. Last, the snowball sampling began with the selected 492 seed set of Occupy communities and then identified the contact persons of each community on the Facebook page or website. The selected communities were contacted via e-mail and Facebook messages and asked to participate voluntarily in the online survey and to disseminate the survey questionnaire among people in their own communities. A total of 191 respondents were included in the final analyses.
- Local citizenship is positively related to local participation, while global citizenship is positively related to global participation.
- Local citizenship mediates the relationship between the use of social networking sites and local participation.
- Global citizenship mediates the relationship between the use of social networking sites and global participation.
Implications for Practice
This study gives insights on the implications of local and global citizenship relative to digitally networked activism. This is accomplished by investigating pathways through which the use of social media has an indirect relationship with participation through its relationship with local and global citizenship. Given that social media helped participants to share information in real time and to engage in interactions with other people, their use was closely related to local and global citizenship.
Thus, this study advances the literature as it shows that it is not always true that social media provide the single-most important mobilizing agent; rather, local and global citizenship should also be carefully considered when examining political participation, especially at this time of large-scale mobilization in the United States and around the world.
The full article is available at: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0002764218764242