Shifting Demographics: Understanding How Ethnically Diverse Networks Influence Latinos’ Political Uses of Social Media and Offline Political Engagement
Although prior work has demonstrated a link between online political engagement and offline participation, less is known about which mechanisms might influence online political opinion expression. This study examined specific constructs that might lead to increased social media engagement among Latinos—a demographic group with high social media adoption, but lower levels of political participation. Results from this study, using data from the 2016 presidential election, suggest that acculturation processes can explain the likelihood of online political engagement, willingness to share opinions, and offline political participation. Findings indicate that for Latinos, the ethnic heterogeneity of one’s social media network and perceptions of commonality between one’s own ethnic group and other ethnic and racial groups drive willingness to share opinions, online political engagement, and, indirectly, offline political participatory behaviors. Results are contextualized in relation to the ways Latinos uniquely integrate with U.S. political culture through online engagement.