Grumpy Consumers, Good Citizens? Exploring the Relationship Among Internet Use, Online Consumer Behavior, and Civic Participation in China

Fei Shen, Tianjiao Wang


Existing empirical research has rarely examined the influence of Internet use on civic participation through the lens of consumer behavior. In this study, we propose a consumer empowerment model to explore the relationship between Internet use and civic participation mediated by consumer behavior variables including online shopping and consumer complaints. Using survey data (N = 1,000) of Internet users in China, we found a positive association among Internet use, civic participation, and consumer behavior to play a crucial role in this process: Internet use catalyzes online shopping, which leads to more consumer complaints, creating a spillover effect for civic engagement. The Internet will not turn China into a liberal democracy, but our findings suggest it may energize elements of civic culture.


Internet use, consumer behavior, civic participation, China

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