Stoking the Fires of Participation : Extending the Gamson Hypothesis on Social Media Use and Elite-challenging Political Engagement

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

16 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations

Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-226
Journal / PublicationComputers in Human Behavior
Online published27 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


The present study examines the conditional and differential effects of social media use on elite-challenging political participation, such as petitions, demonstrations, and protests. It applies the Gamson hypothesis (i.e., a combination of high internal political efficacy and low political trust creates optimal conditions for political mobilization) and extends the differential political implications of new media. This study demonstrates how two types of social media use (i.e., capital-enhancing use and recreational use) and the trust-efficacy typology jointly affect political participation, with empirical reference to three Asian societies (i.e., mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan). Results from a comparative survey echoed previous literature indicating that capital-enhancing social media use facilitated political engagement, whereas recreational use might dampen engagement. The Gamson hypothesis was supported in the Taiwan sample: Dissidents who had high political efficacy and low political trust were more politically active, and for these people, capital-enhancing social media had a stronger political impact. In mainland China, the recreational use of social media had a stronger political implication for Assureds, who were politically self-efficacious and had stronger political trust.

Research Area(s)

  • Gamson hypothesis, Political efficacy, Political participation, Political trust, Social media