“Digital Citizenship” Revisited: The Impact of ICTs on Citizens’ Political Communication Beyond the Western State

Martin Emmer, Marlene Kunst


The role of ICTs in political participation has been a core topic in political communication research for about two decades. Numerous studies have tested whether the enthusiasm about the mobilizing impact of ICTs holds true. Most have been conducted in Western countries and, therefore, reflect a Western-centric understanding of politics and participation. Although these studies have provided insight into the potential of ICTs for established democracies, political and cultural contexts from developing world regions such as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have thus far been neglected. However, given the rapid dissemination of ICTs (e.g., mobile phones) and their innovative application in everyday life in developing countries, regions like SSA should be of particular interest for research in this field. This article aims to highlight the shortcomings of Western research and to recommend adjustments in future efforts to investigate effects of ICTs, including developing world regions, in order to develop a more robust empirical grounding for theories of participation.


political participation, civic participation, digital citizenship, mobile media, digital media, sub-Saharan Africa, ICT

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