Collective Action

Collective Action matters because citizen engagement assists public policy outcomes such as building safer communities and designing more efficient public services, especially if the Big Society ideal is to be realised. But little is known about the link between policy interventions, civic engagement and policy outcomes. We examine how the internet changes the information environment of citizens and influences their participation in political action.

Publication
Article
2013

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.

Publication
Article
2013

Collective action taking place on Internet platforms leaves a digital imprint which may be harvested to better understand the dynamics of 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 about 20,000 petitions to the UK Government over two years, analyzing the rate of growth and the outreach mechanism.

Publication
Article
2013

Now that so much of collective action takes place online, web-generated data can further understanding of the mechanics of Internet-based mobilisation. This trace 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.

Publication
Article
2013

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.

Publication
Paper
2012

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.

Publication
Article
2011

Presented by Helen Margetts and Peter John at the European Consortium of Political Research (ECPR) general conference in Rejkavik on 26 August 2011.

Project
2011

We are currently engaged in a three-year research programme on The Internet, Public Policy and Political Science: Collective Action, Governance and Citizen-Government Interactions in the Digital Era, which started 1st April 2011.

More information about this project is available in the OII press release, and project description page.

Publication
Article
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.

Publication
Article
2011

This paper tests whether the social information provided by the internet affects the decision to participate in politics. In a field experiment, subjects could choose to sign petitions and donate money to support causes. Participants were randomized into treatment groups that received varying information about how many other people had participated and a control group receiving no social information.

Blog Post
2011

We will begin a new three-year research programme on The Internet, Public Policy and Political Science: Collective Action, Governance and Citizen-Government Interactions in the Digital Era starting 1st April.

More information about this project is available in the OII press release, and project description page.

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