The Internet has been ascribed a prominent role in collective action, particularly with widespread use of social media. But most mobilisations fail. We investigate the characteristics of those few mobilisations that succeed and hypothesise that the presence of ‘starters’ with low thresholds for joining will determine whether a mobilisation achieves success, as suggested by threshold models. We use experimental data from public good games to identify personality types associated with willingness to start in collective action.
We have collected and visualized a pilot crawl of UK Central Government websites in late 2011, showing all hyperlinks between central departments and the size of departmental web sites. This work was funded by the ESRC Internet, Public Policy and Political Science project and the JISC-funded InteractiveVis project. The UK government digital landscape is set for some major changes with the replacement of the direct.gov portal with the new gov.uk portal --- it will be interesting to see the difference in network configuration when we carry out the crawl again later this year.
Now that so much of collective action takes place online, web-generated data can further understanding of the mechanics of Internet-based mobilization. This 'big data' offers social science researchers the potential for new forms of analysis, using real-time transactional data based on entire populations, rather than sample-based surveys of what people think they did or might do. This paper uses a 'big data' approach to track the growth of over 8,000 petitions to the UK Government on the No.
OII Director Helen Margetts is one of twelve expert members of the new Digital Advisory Board in the UK. Chaired by UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox, the board will support the UK Government to deliver a revolution in online services.
The Government on the Web team is pleased to announce the publication of Government and IT"a recipe for rip-offs": Time for a new approach: Further Report by the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee. The report incorporates the Government's response to the Committee's Twelfth Report of 2010-12 of the same name and includes comments from Professor Helen Margetts, Oxford Internet Institute, and Professor Patrick Dunleavy and Jane Tinkler, LSE Public Policy Group.
Helen Margetts spoke at the London Conference on Cyberspace, organized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1-2 November. Although much of the conference was dedicated to the the darker side of the Internet—Internet threats and cybersecurity—some of the conference was dedicated to looking at the social benefits of the Internet and how they might be maximized. This session was chaired by Francis Maude, and other speakers included the President of Estonia, Toomas Ilves, and Neelie Kroes, the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda.
Presented by Helen Margetts and Peter John at the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR) general conference in Rejkavik on 26 August 2011.
Political scientists and economists commonly test for different kinds of social influence on collective action, particularly social pressure (visibility) and social information about the contributions of others (leading to conditional cooperation) but rarely in the same study design. This paper assesses the relative effect of these two kinds of social influence suggesting that their impact is best understood through hypothesizing for heterogeneous treatment effects based on personality.