Like any other technological innovation, the internet was welcomed heartily by those who believed that it could change everything concerning democratic governance. Amongst the expected helpful impacts is the ability of the internet to allow common citizens to short-circuit political leaders and communicate directly with each other and community elites, to foster debates, improve trust, form community, and to simplify political partaking. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how the internet has affected citizenship and community participation in political activities in the United States of America.
Citizenship can be defined as status or position of an individual documented under the law as being a legitimate member of a country (Dalton, p77). A person can be a US citizen through birth or by naturalization. Community is defined as a group of persons living in the same district or nation, or having similar characteristics. In this paper, I will consider the American citizens as one community.
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For different reasons, the internet is projected to increase community participation. The communicative abilities of the internet permit some kind of political activities to be done faster, massive amounts of information accessible in the internet would have the impact of reducing the expenses of obtaining political knowledge and motivating political curiosity. The capabilities of the internet enable mobilization to have political activity. Nevertheless, it is widely accepted that in accordance to the number of politically relevant physiognomies, political activists differ from the community at large (Dalton, p80). Also, more involvement does not essentially indicate that citizens are economically or socially different. For one reason, access to the internet is far from global amongst adult Americans, a phenomenon commonly termed as “”digital division”” and the outlines of the digital division indicate in different ways the shape of political public participation. However, accessing the internet does not mean that the user is participating in political activities. Consequently, it becomes important to study the degree to which online political and community acts reflect, ameliorate, or overstate the traditional trends in offline political action.
There are different ways in which internet can improve political involvement. For one reason, different types of political actions such as forming groups of like-minded individuals, making contributions, registering as voters, and communicating with political elites are made easier online. Since the action can be done at any time of the day or night from any location with a laptop and an internet connection, the expenses of participating are lowered. The internet also makes it suitable for the formation political groups in different social platforms. By reducing the cost of communication between a large groups of like-minded people, the internet lowers the expense of gathering large groups on the ground. The internet lowers approximately to zero the cost of trying to meet political supporters from different geographical locations (Hargittai,
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