Contextualizing the Effect of Digital Protest Appeals on Political Self-Expression: Evidence From a Cross-Case Comparison
Do digitally mediated weak-tie appeals to engage in connective action have the same effect everywhere? This study argues that the effect of weak-tie action appeals is contingent on citizenship norms and corresponding social network dynamics such that citizens in countries with higher levels of engaged norms are more likely to be motivated to endorse protest posts than those in countries with lower levels of engaged norms. To demonstrate this, I draw on an original cross-national survey experiment, the results of which show that digitally mediated weak-tie appeals to engage in protest have a more strongly positive effect on motivation to endorse the appeal among Koreans than Japanese respondents. Furthermore, the impact of weak-tie appeals exhibits considerable sensitivity to social network heterogeneity among Japanese respondents. The results of this study suggest that, although technology may in principle empower horizontal networks of citizens, its effect is contingent on norms of political behavior.