Published on August 29, 2012

Contrasting Opinions: Social Media’s Role in Participation

By Kaitlyn Pisaruk

Team Coordinator / Project Officer

A summary of Rob Dale and Tim Hughes recent Guardian Online articles on social media and participation.

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

5 Responses to “Contrasting Opinions: Social Media’s Role in Participation”

  1. August 30, 2012 at 9:15 am


    Firstly, I’d like to thank you for using our image to illustrate your blog post.

    However, you should be made aware that our image usage terms state that attribution must include a live “dofollow” backlink to You have also spelled “KEXINO” incorrectly.

    For reference, the usage terms are clearly outlined on the image’s Flickr page. See:

    Thanks in advance for modifying the attribution.

    Best Regards,

    Gee Ranasinha, 

  2. August 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Hi Gee,

    Sorry about that – all changed. Thanks for the prompt and for the great photo!


  3. August 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Our pleasure. Many thanks for your support, Annie.

  4. August 31, 2012 at 11:02 am

    And can I ask you to correct my name to Mike Chitty? Many thanks…

  5. Simon Burall
    August 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Mike, very sorry about that. I’ve updated it now. Hope all’s well,
    Best, Simon

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