The 2018 World Internet Project Meeting started in Paris, hosted by Sciences Po, with a public conference day addressing the impact of the Internet on societal participation and cross-national perspectives. Organized and hosted by the French World Internet Project partner M@arsouin, the internal meeting continued in Brest, Brittany. The Swiss team presented new results on Internet use and well-being and contributed to the discussion on methodological challenges of longitudinal and comparative survey research.
In April we will be presenting a new longitudinal analysis of Swiss World Internet Project data at the Annual Conference of the Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research that addresses the adoption rates of the (mobile) Internet and specific uses, how these have evolved between 2011 and 2017, which digital divides regarding use, skills, and perceptions persist and how they have changed.
The study provides nationally representative and long-term data, which allows not only reliable results on current digital divides in Switzerland, but also important insights into their evolution. Thereby, an assessment of the success and suitability of existing policy measures for digital inclusion can be made. Such empirical results have been missing thus far but form a crucial basis and legitimization for potential policies regarding ICT developments. A broad view on Internet use and related perceptions is needed to complement existing, more specific analyses (e.g., use of voting advice applications or health information seeking) to locate structural digital inequalities in the information society. The case of Switzerland as a European country with very high Internet penetration offers indications for policies that also have value for other social democracies where the Internet is crucial for everyday functioning.
Four new research reports on Internet use and related topics in Switzerland have been published. Next to some basic figures on Swiss Internet users in 2017 (see figure), we also explored issues such as trust in online content, privacy, and digital well-being.
I recently presented an overview of our most recent studies on digital inequality to argue the relevance of studying Internet use at the Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Philosophy and Sociology (IFiS PAN) in Warsaw. The conference was dedicated to a transdisciplinary approach to discussing new directions in the sociology of social problems and featured speakers from more than a dozen countries and disciplines such as sociology, economics, history, and philosophy. A short abstract of my talk can be found here.
An article I coauthored has been accepted for publication in Socius, an open access journal supported by the American Sociological Association.
A general mobilizing effect of the Internet on political participation has been difficult to demonstrate. This study takes a digital inequality perspective and analyzes the role of Internet expertise for the social structuration of online political participation. A distinct group of political online participants emerged characterized by high education and income. Further, online political participation is predicted by political interest and Internet skills, which increasingly mediated the effects of social position.
This year’s Annual Meeting of the World Internet Project took place in Moscow hosted by the Internet Initiatives Development Fund and Moscow City University. After an open day featuring eCity and eGovernment panels, 25 national partners presented and discussed new findings on Internet use in their respective countries and regions. The Swiss team focused on digital well-being.