The effect of the Internet on civic engagement under authoritarianism: The case of Azerbaijan


  • Katy E. Pearce University of Washington
  • Deen Freelon American University
  • Sarah Kendzior George Washington University



Azerbaijan, civic engagement, internet, authoritarianism


This study examines civic activities under an authoritarian state — Azerbaijan — focusing on how the Internet may influence them. The role of the Internet in political and civic engagement is a subject of debate in any society. But Azerbaijan offers a unique vantage point to study the Internet’s effect on engagement because it views the Internet as an extension of sovereign dominion and controls online discussions. The government maintains the same view of the Internet as it does towards non–governmental engagement: it is unacceptable because it occurs outside state parameters. Using two nationally representative datasets from 2011, logistic regression analysis found that the Internet is associated with public civic engagement (and some forms of private civic engagement) but not with political government engagement. All results were robust to demographic controls, strengthening confidence that the Internet was at least indicative of, if not contributory to, civic life in Azerbaijan outside of the government.

Author Biographies

Katy E. Pearce, University of Washington

Katy Pearce is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington

Deen Freelon, American University

Deen Freelon is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at American University

Sarah Kendzior, George Washington University

Sarah Kendzior is a program associate for the Central Asia Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.




How to Cite

Pearce, K. E., Freelon, D., & Kendzior, S. (2014). The effect of the Internet on civic engagement under authoritarianism: The case of Azerbaijan. First Monday, 19(6).