From theory to practice: how to apply van Deth’s conceptual map in empirical political participation research
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In a time when digitally networked and unconventional activities challenge our understanding of political participation, van Deth (Acta Polit 49(3):349–367, 2014) has developed a map to consolidate previous attempts at conceptualizing political participation. He suggests a framework operating with four distinct types of political participation that apply across time and context and therefore potentially may lead to higher comparability of results in participation research. However, his map faced criticism for not accounting for digital and other recent participatory activities, and so far, it remains a theoretical endeavor that needs to prove its utility when applied to the diverse set of participatory activities. Our study empirically tests how recently emerging participatory activities, such as crowdfunding or urban gardening, can conceptually be combined with more traditional forms of participation. We use 27 participatory activities from a national survey conducted in Denmark (N = 9125) to test van Deth’s framework. A confirmatory factor analysis demonstrates the existence of four distinct types of political participation, based on the sphere, the target, and the intention of activities. Our model furthermore indicates that the distinction between online and offline activities has decreased in relevance and that new and unconventional participation activities can be subsumed under van Deth’s four types of political participation.
KeywordsPolitical participation Digital networked participation Civic engagement Unconventional participation CFA
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