Social Media Influence On Political Participation Among Students In Delta State University, Abraka

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Social Media Influence On Political Participation Among Students In Delta State University, Abraka


Some studies theorized social media as fostering youth political participation by facilitating the development of online participatory cultures (Jenkins, 2009). Online participatory cultures provide young citizens with opportunities to discuss and gain information about political topics, create capacity for action by promoting digital skills and norms for group interaction, and facilitate recruitment into civic and political life (Kahne et al., 2013).

This thesis entitled ” social media influence on political participation among students in delta state university, abraka. The study was based on three specific objectives, i.e.: To assess the use of Social Media to mobilize students to participate in politics to examine the cultural values in Nigeria that make it difficult for students to participate in the decision making process and to find out the relationship between social media and students participation in politics in Nigeria

The study took form of a case study design, with, a study sample of 60 respondents using simple random sampling method. Questionnaires and interviews were used in collecting both primary and secondary data. The collected data was analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The study findings indicate It is high time for everyone (especially students). To get actively involved in politics.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the study

There is evidence of a worldwide trend in the decline of young citizens’ participation in politics, especially in terms of voting. In the United States, for example, a study revealed that voter turnout of the 18–24 year-old citizens declined from more than 50 percent in 1972 to only about 35 percent in 2000 (Zukin, Keeter, Andolina, Jenkins, and Carpini, 2006, p. 6). In Britain, voter turnout among young citizens under 25-years-old declined from 88.6% in 1964 to only 44.3% in 2005 (Phelps, 2005, p. 483). In Canada, voter turnout of citizens of age 18-24-year-old declined from 75% in 1988 to 60% in 2000 (Barnes and Virgint, 2013).

These trends are consistent with that for the general population. A study by International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) revealed that, on average, voter turnout is on a steady decline globally. For example, Japan had a decline from 72% in 1960 to 62% in 2000; France 77% in 1960 to 60% in 2000; Costa Rica 81% in 1960 to 67% in 2000; New Zealand 89% in 1960 to 77% in 2000 (Blais, 2010, pp. 166–167).

These trends were not always linear as voter turnout increased in some cases such as in the US elections in 1992 and 2004, the UK in 1987 and 1992, and Canada in 2015 (Hay, 2007, p. 13; “Voter Turnout Hits Highest Level In Over 2 Decades,” 2015; Zukin et al., 2006, p. 6). However, data on the aggregate level show that the declining trend is the general pattern (Blais, 2010, pp. 166–167; Dalton, 2008, p. 37; Hay, 2007, p. 13; International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2002, pp. 76–77).

Based on IDEA’s published report in 1999, young citizens (age less than 25 year-olds) are the group of voters with the lowest turnout rate in almost all countries studied (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2002, p. 111). Studies on specific countries such as the US and the UK also confirm this conclusion (Phelps, 2005, p. 483; Zukin et al., 2006, p. 6).

Research that attempted to uncover the causes of this decline led to various conclusions. Two main arguments are: 1) the decline of political participation is the reflection of the decay of civic values among today’s citizens. The root of the decline of political participation can be attributed to the growing apathy towards civic participation in general: that people are less interested in social activities, are less attached to group membership, and inclined more to individual activities (Putnam, 1995); and 2) the phenomenon of citizens’ disconnection with politics is actually a sign of the transformation (rather than decline) of citizenship norms and values (Dalton, 2008, 2009; Inglehart and Welzel, 2007; Zukin et al., 2006). In other words, people are participating in different ways. In line with the second argument, Dalton (2008) proposes that the new trend of political participation is marked by the emergence of a new style of citizen politics. The current forms of political participation are marked by activities that are citizen-initiated, less constrained, more policy-oriented, and directly linked to the government. Some of these forms of political participation – now increasingly found in advanced industrial democratic countries – are participation in citizen lobbies, single-issue groups, citizen-action movements, and political consumerism activities (2008, p. 54).

The causes of this changing form of political participation, according to Dalton, are the increasing political sophistication of citizens (in terms of skills and knowledge) and the accessibility of participation resources (especially in terms of political information). As Dalton stated, a sophisticated and cognitively mobilized citizen places less dependence on traditional forms of political participation, such as voting and campaigns as the primary means of influencing the government (2008, p. 54). As a consequence, today’s citizens would prefer to participate in certain forms of political participation and not others.

Some scholars specifically propose that the new communication technology, social media in particular, is responsible for this transformation of political participation. Loader and Marca, for example, argue that social media enable citizens to critically scrutinize the actions of government and corporations by providing them space to interact and collaborate in the production and the dissemination of alternative political information (2011, p. 759). Meanwhile Bennet proposes that social media has the capacity to activate a “small world phenomenon” (in which distant people are in close reach of individuals), making it useful to activists for coordinating large-scale, individualized collective action as in the cases of Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street movement, or the 15-M movement in Spain (2012, p. 28). In sum, these scholars point to the potential of social media to promote the emergence of the new forms of political participation which are more direct, more issue-oriented, more elite-challenging, and less dependent on traditional political institutions such as political parties.

Based on the above descriptions, there is a suggestion that youth political participation worldwide is shifting into a new form of political participation, made possible by the emergence of social media. Social media is argued as a technology that goes hand-in-hand with the social changes that have happened (the growth of more sophisticated citizens, the rise of the new citizenship norms), which eventually led to the emergence of the new form of political participation.

However, it is important to note that the above literature (as well as many other literature in this topic) mostly refers to the cases in the advanced democratic countries, especially in western democratic countries. Explanations regarding the shifting form of youth political participation, facilitated by social media, are hardly found in the cases of the emerging democratic countries such as Indonesia.

Therefore, this research is interested in proposing explanations regarding the trend of youth political participation, especially in relation to the role of social media in affecting it in Indonesia’s context.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

From the evolution of social media platforms on the internet world, it has been used for political purposes (Langlois and Elmer, 2013). Over the 5 or 8 years, the use of social media in politics has got a lot of attention in the academic area and researchers conducted many studies and created literature to understand the impact of the use of social media in politics. How does it influence political participants and Student voting behaviour? Most of the research provides generic information and there is a large gap in this research area that needs to be filled up. This can be what kinds of political activities on social media have a great impact on political efficacy. Previous research also did not show the Student perception regarding the use of social media in politics (Calderaro, 2018). So, this is important to know the Student perception of social media use in politics. This is also needed to know what kinds of political activities through social media have a great impact on the Student and other political participants.

South Asian countries like India are using social media to reach political participants and pursue potential voters. The new voters think that social media is an easy and effective medium to engage in political activities (Biswas et al., 2014). This has changed the way people communicate with each other. With the traditional channels, politicians can make awareness about political activities. But, social media helps not only make aware but also attract people. This research also argued that social media helps politicians to engage young people to participate in political activities (Biswas et al., 2014). Every Student in the modern world is using social media and they are using social media for political participation. People are using it for political campaigns, communicate with politicians and taking part in any other political activities (Omotayo and Folorunso, 2020). The use of social media and the various available access to political activities and information has a great impact on political efficacy and Student participation (Bimber and Copeland, 2011).

Kruse et. al. (2018) argued that people avoid engaging in political discussion and actions through social media. This research has shown three factors responsible for this avoidance. First, the factor is fear of online arrangement, second is they engage only with like-minded people, finally, they think that social only use for social and happy interactions. Loader and Mercea (2011) argued that social media has the potential to make more participative democracy. This is a strong platform that has disruptive value to challenge traditional modes of communication and interest (Bennett, 2012). The purpose of this research is to leverage the knowledge gap in this area. And this research has shown social media influence on political participation among students in delta state university, Abraka. This has reduced a large knowledge gap in the area of social media use in politics.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This study purpose is social media influence on political participation among students in delta state university, abraka

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study is to

  1. To assess the use of Social Media to mobilize students to participate in politics.
  2. To examine the cultural values in Nigeria that make it difficult for students to participate in the decision making process.
  3. To find out the relationship between social media and students participation in politics in Nigeria.

1.5 Research Questions

In this study, an attempt will be sufficiently made to answer the following questions.

  1. Do Social Media actually mobilize students enough towards political participation?
  2. To what extent does culture affect students’ participation in politics in Nigeria?
  3. What is the relationship between Social Media and students’ participation in politics in Nigeria?

1.6 Significance of the Study

It is expected that at the end of this study that

The researcher will be able to understand the usefulness of Social Media in mobilizing students to take part in decision-makin o .

It will enable the government to promote the full utilization of students in the development of human resources and to bringing about their acceptance as full participation in every phase of national development with equal rights and corresponding obligations in elective positions for students.

1.7. Operational Definition of Terms


The degree to which somebody/ something is involved in a situation or an activity and the effect that they have on it.


It has to do with organizing or preparing people for a particular purpose.


Taking active part in that particular activity or event.


A competition between political parties to wards who or which party assumes political leadership.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

The researcher is likely to face some challenges of limited resources especially in terms of finance to pay for expenses of research. Such expenses include printing costs due to many questionnaires. transport costs moving from place to place, binding costs and other paper works. The researcher hopes to borrow some money from friends and later on, refund.

1.9 Organization of the Study

This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter one included the background of the study, research problem, research objectives and questions as well as limitation of the study. Chapter two contains the literature review. Chapter three includes the methodology and study area. Chapter Four contains the results and discussion of key findings of the study. Chapter Five finally looks at the summary, conclusions, and recommendations based on the findings.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.2 Conclusion

It is high time for everyone (especially students) to realize that gender identities are largely culturally created and no sex/gender is more important than the other. Students constitute a substantial amount of the population but a review of the Nigerian political scene reveals a non- equitable development,.

Evidence revealed that there are various ways through which Social Media has helped to keep students in the private sphere. For instance,. Social Media propagates masculine culture that pigeonholes students and presents them as unfit for politics. Social Media achieves this through its use of language, widecoverage on students issues- used and assignment of political editorial positions, amongst others. These became evident in the analysis of motion pictures and the content of students presented new opinions and reportage of politics. Also even when students are covered politically, they are not given prominence.

5.2 Conclusion

Second, the researcher would encourage other researchers to explore the process through which perception about “the generalized other” is constructed by individuals in social media environment. In particular, they should investigate the potential role of social media in providing “a distorted environment” for individuals in the construction of “the generalized other”, since certain voices (for example the ones who mock or attack others) could be more dominant than others on social media and the identity of individuals who speak may have been manipulated. Future research should also consider incorporating the perspective of symbolic interaction in the research. Given the fact that the spiral of silence theory originally drew one of its main idea from this perspective, it is surprising that I found very little research on the spiral of silence, if any, utilizes this perspective in the research.
And lastly, future research should also elaborate the way specific social media platform is used by youth for political conversation monitoring, political information monitoring, and political opinion expression. Based on survey, this research actually found that Instagram is the most preferred social media platform by youth for news consumption. However, the researcher haven’t had a chance to further explore the way youth use this specific social media platform for the above mentioned activities. There is a suggestion (see for example Hannan, 2018 ) that specific social media platform present political discourse differently to its users, thus also affect their behaviour of expression differently. Therefore, it would be very interesting to examine the way specific social media platform such as Instagram, which heavily favour visual format (pictures and videos), is used by youth for political learning and political expression.

Finally, this research had demonstrated that social media is perhaps not the great democratising force that some scholars have theorised it to be. This research shows that within the context of Indonesia’s society (in which the culture in general is collectivist; individuals are highly affiliated with their identity group), rather than empowering individuals to overcome their barriers and limitations (in terms of resources, motivation and opportunities) to engage in civicpolitical lives, social media in fact lends power to society to exert influence over individuals (through the act of internalizing “the generalized other” facilitated by social media). More specifically under the circumstances of a heated ethnic and religious based political polarization, social media channel power flow from the battling political camps into individuals, which eventually lead them to silent. The historical past of Nigeria may have also affected the situation because, durino the colonial period. the colonial masters suppressed established institutions which protected students and since then, the situation has remained the same (Nwankwo 1996).

Social Media helps bring development issues to public’s knowledge and thus could be catalytic in the quest for equitable representation in politics. According to Norwood (2005:5), “indeed it is difficult for people to be interested in things they know nothing about”. This calls for the need for development scholars to turn their searchlight to Social Media on the issue of gender and politics. McBride et al (1996: 191)

Students issues should be properly integrated into the information and communication system. Furthermore, Social Media should be more responsive to the needs of students in politics. It should present information which do not distort, be little or demean students or confine them to stereotyped behavior and roles. Hence, the call for Social Media in which students participates and shares in determining the content, in decision-making and control. In fact.

5.3 Recommendations for Further Study

The following recommendations are made based on the findings of the study:

  1. Grassroots enlightenment campaign should be organized to change the negative attitude of most people to woman participation in politics as well as to inspire students to vie for elective position.
  2. Economic empowerment of students should be vigorously pursued since it will provoke greater participation of students in politics.
  3. Electoral law should forbid political thuggery and violence while the senate should enact a law making electoral violence a crime punishable by hanging.
  4. Above all. students should encourage themselves and support sound political aspirants with political visions and ambitions.

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