The Effect of Facebook on Political Communication and Young Voters in Taiwan
這個為期兩年半的研究主要目的有兩個：第一，作者將在選舉期間及非選舉期間進行問卷調查(panel survey)探視年輕選民在臉書上的政治活動、網路和現實生活中的政治參與、及投票行為。第二、作者將利用縱慣性干預研究(longituindal intervention)來檢視媒介習慣以及臉書使用行為對於政治參與的影響及其因果關係的方向。|
The 2012 Taiwanese presidential election is approaching rapidly. Past elections in Taiwan have shown that the voting turnout fall between 75%- 82%. However, only 18.3% of young registered voters aged 20-24 years old voted in the 1995 legislators’ election, and only 32.1% voted in the 1996 Taiwanese presidential election (National Youth Commission, 1998). Compared to the other age groups which had 78% - 90% voting turnout, young registered voters had significantly low voting participation. How to engage young voters to participate in political activities and vote has become the important issue around the world recently. Emerging research from the 2008 U.S. presidential election showed that popular social network sites (SNSs), specifically Facebook, had positive influences on college students’ political participation and political interest. Facebook provides a transparent place for presidential candidate to publicly present their images and the interactions with the audience at low cost. Two gaps were identified in existing studies regarding the effects of Facebook usage on users’ political participation. First, no published literature has examined the effects of political activities and information exposure on Facebook on users’ actual voting behavior. In addition, very little attention has been paid to the role of Facebook in Taiwan’s presidential election. The political candidates have started to use different features including fan page and groups in Facebook for political campaigning from the last presidential election, the 2012 Taiwanese presidential election thus becomes the key to examine the effect of the role of Facebook on users’ political participation and actual voting behavior. Second, current literature focusing on the effect of Facebook usage on online and offline political participation were all cross-sectional studies. The causality and the so-called media use “predictors” require further examination. Therefore, the second aim of this proposal is to examine the direction of the causality using longitudinal intervention data to address the limitation. Furthermore, current understanding of the factors influencing the effects of Facebook usage on users’ political participation had conflicting findings (Vitak et al., 2011; Zhang, Johnson, Seltzer, & Bichard, 2010; Zube et al., 2009). The author will draw upon the theory of media habit (LaRose, 2010) to further explain and examine this seminal construct in understanding and predicting users’ media use and political participation. How do young people use Facebook to participate in political activities? How do Facebook engage young users for more political awareness and interest? The purpose of this two-and-a- half-year research plan is two-fold. First, several large-scale, systematic surveys will be conducted to examine young voters’ political activities on Facebook, their online and offline political participation, and actual voting behavior in primary and non-primary election seasons. Second, a longitudinal intervention will be conducted to examine the role of media habits and the of Facebook usage for political participation to establish the direction of causality. The cross-sectional data will provide us systematic report regarding how Facebook was utilized by the users for political participation, while the longitudinal further provide us the careful examination of the causality through intervention.