The Digitally Literate Citizen: How Digital Literacy Empowers Mass Participation in the United States
From online political campaigning to Internet social clubs, the American mass participation environment has become increasingly mediated by digital technologies or tools. From social membership in groups and clubs to political participation to influencing government action, information technologies have become popular for expressing ideas and building social capital. In this thesis, I argue that digital literacy, or the ability to use electronic tools to retrieve, evaluate, and create information, has become essential for engagement in various mass participation and social activities in the United States, including those activities within the domains of social membership, civic, political, and online participation. Because of the increased use of information technologies in the public sphere, technology and information skills have become required to effectively participate socially and politically. Using data from a nationally representative survey, I illustrate several findings that indicate the strength of digital literacy skills in empowering public for social membership participation, political participation, and online social activities.
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