The New User: Revisiting the Digital Divide
Lassen, David S.; Magleby, David
Though many scholars and commentators are optimistic about the influence of the Internet on American political culture, some decry the presence of a “digital divide” wherein individuals of higher socioeconomic status have greater access to online political tools. I argue that this is an unnecessarily limited view of online political behavior and that analyses of online political engagement should go beyond questions of access to include considerations of individual preference. Using the results from a new survey of 2008 campaign donors, I find that differences between online and offline political participators are largely skill-and interest-based, not demographic. I also present a personal typology of Internet behavior and find significant skill and interest differences between different types of online participators. This suggests that future research on the extent of online political engagement should be broader than simple questions of access and should include classifications of personal preference as well.