Social media use and political participation in nine Asian Nations


Lars Willnat
School of Journalism,
Indiana University, U.S.A.


Asia provides a rich environment for examining the potential effects of social media use on political participation in relatively unexplored political, social, and cultural contexts. While there is a growing number of studies that have investigated this relationship in various Asian countries, most of these studies are limited by the fact that they are based on data from one particular country. However, potential effects of social media use are shaped—or at least influenced—by the political, cultural and social environments that exist in each nation. Thus, studies that analyze the relationship between social media use and political communication in one country might overstate (or understate) the significance of findings that are applicable only in a very narrow setting.


This study, which is based on data collected in a cross-national survey of 3,500 college students from nine Asian countries, will compare findings across nations in order to identify any relationships between social media use and political participation that might be universal and therefore independent of national characteristics. The survey focuses on students’ general satisfaction with democracy and political trust; time spent with social media; exposure to traditional and online news media; use of alternative news platforms; offline and online political participation; and demographics.