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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

The e-petitioning, extension or substitute for political participation? A new way to study the sociology of e-petitioners

Cyber Politics
Political Participation
Social Movements
Jean-Gabriel Contamin
Institut d'Études Politiques de Lille
Jean-Gabriel Contamin
Institut d'Études Politiques de Lille
Martine Legris Revel
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Institut d'Études Politiques de Lille

New technologies are often presented as a way for revitalizing democracy, allowing both the the remobilization of those who are disappointed by traditional democracy and the mobilization of new categories of people. Yet the findings of the increasingly numerous works which, for twenty years, have studied "digital democracy" and more specifically the political effects of ICT on political participation, remain contradictory. Those who insist on the unique potential associated with these new technologies oppose to those who emphasize the limited nature of the changes, noting for example that only the most politicized appropriate new technologies and use them to make traditional forms of action more efficient. Moreover, those who see in those practices a sign of a more distant relationship to politics (clicktivism) oppose those who insist on the plural relationships to politics. Most of these works are however based on surveys that take into account a generic behavior and only give a general characterization of e-participants compared to other participants. On the contrary, we would like in this contribution, somewhat on the model of what Olivier Fillieule and al (1997) carried out for demonstrations, to focus on mobilized actors themselves, using a questionnaire sent to all of those who have signed at least one text on a chosen site of e-petitioning (potentially 700,000 people), in order to take into account as concretely as possible their sociodemographic profile, their relationship to politics and their political practices in their diversity.
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