The Dark Side of Online Participation: Exploring Non- and Negative Participation

Christoph Lutz, Christian Pieter Hoffmann


In this contribution, we differentiate the meaning of online participation based on a qualitative study (focus groups, online communities) with 96 individuals from a broad range of social backgrounds in Germany. Our contribution is twofold: First and in line with other recent research, we posit and show that online participation and non-participation can be active or passive. Especially the forms of active non-participation and passive participation are noteworthy because they challenge existing notions of participation as a voluntary active act of engagement. Second, we argue that the "dark sides" or socially undesired forms of online participation need to be taken into account more strongly. Such a critical perspective can question the often enthusiastic and strongly positive twist prevalent in the discourse around online participation.


participation, digital divide, focus groups, participatory culture, social media

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