Date of this Version
Since its inception and subsequent diffusion, the Internet has been lauded as a potent democratizing agent. Using macro-level panel data from 1994 to 2003, this study examined 152 countries and found that increased Internet diffusion was a meaningful predictor of more democratic regimes. This was shown to be most true in developed countries, where nonlinear fixed effects regression models showed the highest coefficient estimates and largest observed associations. Consistent with media system dependency theory, greater effects were also demonstrated for countries that already were at least partially democratic where the Internet was more prevalent and thus more likely to fulfill a greater number of information functions. In addition, Internet diffusion and democracy demonstrated a positive, statistically significant relationship (but with a marginal observed association size) in developing countries where the average level of sociopolitical instability was much higher. The Internet therefore should not be employed as a modern ‘mobility multiplier’ because of the strong associations and positive relationships it has shown with democracy but it should also not be ignored due to the democratic potential these results suggest.
Date Posted: 27 February 2014