Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Karen Shafer


Democracy depends on the civic and political engagement of individuals. Despite a growing body of research analyzing political engagement in the United States, little attention has been paid to the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and perceptions of citizens concerning civic participation. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between ICTs, perceptions of citizenship, and participatory preferences for 18- to 35-year-olds in the United States. Applying Olson's theory of collective action, the goal of the study was to understand how ICT use influenced changes in perceptions of citizenship between 2004 and 2014. A repeated cross-sectional design, pooling secondary data retrieved from the U.S. General Social Survey database, was used to answer the research questions on the effect of ICT use on perceptions and actions concerning citizenship and participation. The hypotheses were tested using multiple linear regression analysis. Study findings suggested that ICT use had no notable effect on changes in perceptions of citizenship. More specifically, results indicated that changes in perceptions and actions between 2004 and 2014 were not the result of ICTs, despite increasing ICT usage over the period. These findings indicate that ICTs are just tools, rather than agents of change. Acknowledging ICT use as a form of expression permits practitioners to deploy ICTs as tools to support civic engagement. Benefits from leveraging them as tools are likely to accrue individuals, society, and practitioners alike. The resulting implications for positive social change include increased participation as well as the adoption of democratic practices reflective of modern participatory demands and behaviors.