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Study: Internet Enhances Civic Engagement

A study by University of Wisconsin journalism professor Dhavan Shah, published in the October edition of the journal Communication Research, concludes that the Internet can rival the effects of newspapers in spurring citizens to action, according to a university press release, which states in part:

Use of the Internet as a resource and a forum strongly influences participation in civic affairs, often more than traditional media and even face-to-face communication…

The study’s conclusions are also significant because they show the potential for the Internet to be a dynamic, interactive medium able to build citizen participation in public life. Although some scholars have criticized online communication as eroding social connections and encouraging people to withdraw instead of become engaged, Shah’s study found that certain uses of the Internet can actually heighten civic participation.

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