The Great Equalizer? Patterns of Social Media Use and Youth Political Engagement in Three Advanced Democracies

Image is illustrative. Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Recent developments suggest a strong relationship between social media use and political engagement and raise questions about the potential for social media to help stem or even reverse patterns of political inequality that have troubled scholars for years. In this paper, a model of social media and political engagement among young people, and test it using data from representative samples of young people in Australia, the USA, and the UK is articulated.

The results suggest a strong, positive relationship between social media use and political engagement among young people across all three countries, and provide additional insights regarding the role played by social media use in the processes by which young people become politically engaged. Notably, our results also provide reasons to be optimistic concerning the overall influence of this popular new form of digital media on longstanding patterns of political inequality.

Authors

Michael A. Xenos

Ariadne Vromen

Brian D. Loader