PUBLICATION: Tackling COVID-19 from below: civic participation among online neighbourhood network users during the COVID-19 pandemic

(26-03-2021)

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, many forms of bottom-up civic action emerged as ways to collectively ‘flatten the curve’ and tackle the crisis. Many people began sewing facemasks, doing groceries for the elderly or 3D-printing respiratory systems. While the COVID-19 pandemic remains a global issue, many of these actions occurred on a local level. Therefore we investigated to what extent local community integration (online and offline) affected three types of civic participation during the COVID-19 pandemic: volunteering, consumerism and participation through an Online Neighbourhood Network (ONN). We focused on users of the ONN Hoplr, a Belgian social networking site where residents can share information pertaining their neighbourhood, town or city and ask for neighbourly help. Our results confirm the importance of local social integration in explaining civic participation, even when established indicators of civic participation such as news consumption, civic talk and civic attitudes are taken into account. Also, offline and online local integration seem to complement each other in terms of the types of participation they spark, while ONNs show potential of providing a safe space for civic participation that allows citizens to move freely across various actions, especially in times of crisis.

If you want to know more about our study, read the report (in Dutch) or download the full article here

Waeterloos, C.De Meulenaere, J.Walrave, M. and Ponnet, K. (2021), "Tackling COVID-19 from below: civic participation among online neighbourhood network users during the COVID-19 pandemic", Online Information Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-08-2020-0379