Digital skills and political participation in northeast Anatolia, Turkey
The study examines the relationship between digital skills and political participation, while controlling for political capital and exposure to political information via social media. Digital skills are conceptualized in four sub-types (operational, formal, informational, and strategic) and political participation in three sub-types (online, off-line, and civic participation). The study examines a non-Western sample drawn from the northeastern region of Turkey (n = 400), and data were collected through performance tests developed by van Deursen and van Dijk (2011), and respondents were surveyed regarding their political participation, demographic characteristics, political capital, and exposure to information about politics. Analysis involved exploratory factor analysis for data reduction and OLS regression. Findings indicate that digital skills of each type positively influence political participation and, similarly, exposure to political content through social media and political capital have positive effects on political participation. Digital skills most strongly predict civic and online political participation types, but are empirically unrelated to off-line political participation activities. The study examines a previously unstudied population in the non-Western context of northeast Anatolia, which is a novel empirical test considering nearly all previous studies have examined Western populations. While the overall effect that digital skills positively associate with political participation is generally confirmed, this study reports a nuance that may be culturally specific. In previous studies, digital skill has most strongly influenced online participation forms, while in the Turkish context civic participation is more strongly associated with digital skills.
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