Washington, April 5 (IANS) The net may have spurred democratic revolutions in the Arab world, but a new study suggests the it is most likely to play a role only in specific situations.
"Instead of the internet promoting fundamental political change, it seems to reinforce political change in countries that already have at least some level of democratic freedom," said Erik Nisbet, assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, who led the study.
"Internet use is a less effective means to mobilize citizens for democracy in extremely authoritarian countries," added Nisbet, reported a special edition of the Journal of Communication.
Demand for democracy is highest in a country when more people are connected to the internet and, most importantly, when they spend more time online, he said, according to an Ohio State statement.
"Internet penetration in a country matters in terms of how much people want democratic reforms, but it is even more important that people are spending greater amounts of time on the internet and that they are connected to other people in their community," said Elizabeth Stoycheff, study co-author and doctoral student in communication at Ohio State.
Nisbet and Stoycheff conducted the study with Katy Pearce of the University of Washington. They analyzed previously collected data on 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
This included surveys of 37,549 people who participated in the 2008 Afrobarometer and 2006-2008 Asian Barometer surveys. Included were questions that evaluated how much the citizens in each country demanded democracy and their frequency of internet use.
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