Last week, Rob Dale argued in the Guardian Online that social media was the key to participation and solving what his piece called voters apathy. Tim Hughes responded that, in his view, greater use of social media will not increase citizen participation.
Tim agrees with Rob that social media is an essential tool for participation, but disagrees as to the weight social media holds in increasing involvement. Drawing on Involve’s eight years of research experience and Mike Chitty’s article ‘To those that would engage us‘, Tim argues that rather than being apathetic, citizens are disengaged from local politics. “…when people do not trust the messenger or the message, changing the medium is unlikely to make much difference.” Understanding correctly why citizens are not voting is critical if they are to be re-engaged on terms that they recognise.
Tim writes, “A cultural change is therefore needed throughout our democratic institutions based on a role for elected representatives as the facilitators – not the embodiment – of local democracy.”
This leaves the question open to – with the growing market of social media – how best can this tool be used?
Links to both articles are in the text above.
Image by: KEXINO