Media participation: A legitimizing mechanism of mass democracy

Erik P. Bucy, Kimberly S. Gregson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


This article reconsiders civic involvement and citizen empowerment in the light of interactive media and elaborates the concept of media participation. Departing from conventional notions of political activity which downplay the participatory opportunities inherent in communication media, the authors argue that since 1992 new media formats have made accessible to citizens a political system that had become highly orchestrated, professionalized and exclusionary. A typology of active, passive and inactive political involvement is presented to accurately distinguish civic involvement from political disengagement and to categorize the types of empowerment and rewards - both material and symbolic -that different modes of civic activity afford. Even if only symbolically empowering, civic engagement through new media serves as an important legitimizing mechanism of mass democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-380
Number of pages24
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Citizen empowerment
  • Media participation
  • New media formats
  • Political legitimacy
  • Political participation


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