Feminism! What Is It Good For? The Role of Feminism and Political Self-Efficacy in Women’s Online Political Participation.
Heger, K., & Hoffmann, C. P. (2021). Feminism! What Is It Good For? The Role of Feminism and Political Self-Efficacy in Women’s Online Political Participation. Social Science Computer Review, 39(2), 226-244. DOI: 10.1177/0894439319865909
Despite initial hopes for more egalitarian access to democracy, research has shown that political participation on the Internet remains as stratified as its offline counterpart. Gender is among the characteristics affecting an individual’s degree of political engagement on the Internet—even when controlling for socioeconomic status. To explain this gender divide, it is necessary to go beyond purely resource-based perspectives. Social cognitive theory allows for an analysis of how environmental factors shape cognitions, such as political efficacy, which, in turn, foster political participation. Political efficacy has been shown to be lower among women compared to men. This study explores determinants of gendered online political participation (OPP) by analyzing how self-efficacy mediates the effect of newly developed measures of three different waves of feminist attitudes on OPP. Based on a survey of 1,078 Internet users in Germany, 70% of them women, we analyze the effects of feminism on political efficacy and participation. Feminism is associated with higher internal political efficacy. Also, some feminist paradigms are shown to empower women to participate politically online. This effect, however, is not mediated through efficacy. This finding sheds light on opportunities to foster women’s political participation.