Since the turn of the century, many commentators have argued that political activism has been compromised by “slacktivism,” a pejorative term that refers to supposedly inauthentic, low-threshold forms of political engagement online, such as signing an e-petition or “liking” a Facebook page. Set in these recent debates, this research project examines what effect does routine social media use have on political engagement in Britain? A series of further questions are explored in relation to this this: What political information do citizens consume on Facebook and Twitter? Do these social networking sites provide a space for discursive engagement, and if so, what is the nature of this discussion? And, crucially, do these low-effort interactions evolve into further participatory acts? When they do, what are the attitudinal motivations driving this involvement? 

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American Political Science Association Information Technology and Politics Section Best Dissertation Award, 2017.

Selected talks

Dennis, J. (2018). Beyond Slacktivism: Political Participation on Social Media. Invited presentation at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Bologna, April 16.

Dennis, J. (2018). Slacktivists or Critical Citizens? An Experimental Study of Political Engagement on Facebook. Invited presentation at the National Youth Council of Ireland, Dublin, February 1.

Dennis, J. (2017). It’s Not All Fake News and Filter Bubbles: Personalised News Consumption and Collective Exposure on Social Media. Paper presented at the IAMCR Annual Conference, Cartagena, Colombia, July 16-20.

Dennis, J. (2016). A Typology of Citizen Roles in Social Media Environments: Exploring Slacktivism and Youth Participation in Britain. Paper presented at the Centre for Political Youth Culture and Communication Conference, University of York, July 18-19.

Dennis, J. (2015). Experiential Learning, Standby Citizens and the Redundancy of Slacktivism: Exploring the Day-to-Day Use of Social Media for Political Participation. Paper presented at the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group Annual Conference, Chester, November 5-6.

Dennis, J. (2014). All Hail the Keyboard Radical? A New Research Agenda for Political Participation and Social Media. Paper presented at the Political Studies Association Annual Conference, Manchester, April 14-16.

Dennis, J. (2013). Diffusion of Information on Social-Networking Sites Within a Participatory Continuum: A Critique of the Utopian / Dystopian Divide 2.0 and Slacktivism. Paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA, April 3-6.