The Quality of Internet Access and Political Engagement
thesisposted on 30.07.2020 by Michael Roderick Brownstein
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
The Internet is a technology that has been one that has been transformed American society. The role of the Internet had become apparent in the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 in light of shutdowns and quarantines by the government. As a result, the technologies surrounding the Internet have created a space where there are inequalities in which the Internet is accessed. As a result, these inequalities affect not only socioeconomic factors, but political behaviors as well.
This dissertation also seeks to explain the political behaviors that are enabled by Internet access quality.
I argue that a person's level of Internet access can affect their ideological and partisan identity, as well as political engagement, especially in behaviors such as political giving. I use data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey and the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census to test these theories. By using a measure I develop called the Quality of Internet Access (QoIA), I find evidence that Internet access has affects on ideological and partisan identity. I also find that QoIA affects political engagement positively, specifically in how donations are given to, and solicited by political campaigns. I conclude that the QoIA measurement should be flexibly used and research in taking account for Internet access quality should continue as the inequalities of the digital divide still exist.