Breaking news: Political participation surges with increased internet usage – education and income outweighted

  • Jon Lund 

Thought education was the most crucial factor when it came to explaining who is most likely to engage in political discussions, writing letters to the editors or joining a political party? Or perhaps you thought what mattered was money: the richer, the more activity or at least stronger feeling of being able to influence political processes? Well, perhaps you’re right. But there’s one factor that overrules both: “virtual capital”.

In a yet unpublished study Danish political scientist, Professor Jens Hoff shows that the more experienced a computer user you are (which he terms “virtual capital”), the more likely you are to be engaged in political processes – and believe that you’re able to influence them. Based on a survey conducted in collaboration with The Institute of Social Research, Hoff concludes at statistical significant levels that “virtual capital” has a higher explanatory power than both education and income.

When presenting the results at a closed conference recently Hoff said jokingly: “What this means? It means you should tell your kids to go play more computergames and leave the homework undone”.