Going online. Does ICT enabled-participation engage the young in local governance?


Local governments increasingly use online strategies to strengthen political participation of citizens in policy and politics. Young people, however, are generally under-represented. This article studies age patterns of participation across offline and online forms of action to test whether online initiatives are able to overcome this age bias. We first report a case study of online and offline problem reporting to local authorities. We find that simply going from offline to online participation reinforces rather than mitigates age bias. We then report a case study of message posting on an online political forum. In this case, age bias disappears. In contrast to the traditional instrumental modes, a forum is an expressive form of online participation. The young seem to value the act of participating over the outcomes of participation. For practice, these findings suggest a need for participation policies that speak to these expressive needs of young. In recent years, social media have reinforced the potential for expressive participation.

In Local Government Studies