Purdue University Graduate School
The_Quality_of_Internet_Access_and_Political_Engagement (3).pdf (601.93 kB)

The Quality of Internet Access and Political Engagement

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posted on 2020-07-30, 04:48 authored by Michael Roderick BrownsteinMichael Roderick Brownstein
The Internet is a technology that has been one that has been transformed American society. The role of the Internet had become apparent in the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 in light of shutdowns and quarantines by the government. As a result, the technologies surrounding the Internet have created a space where there are inequalities in which the Internet is accessed. As a result, these inequalities affect not only socioeconomic factors, but political behaviors as well.

This dissertation also seeks to explain the political behaviors that are enabled by Internet access quality.
I argue that a person's level of Internet access can affect their ideological and partisan identity, as well as political engagement, especially in behaviors such as political giving. I use data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey and the 2010 U.S. Decennial Census to test these theories. By using a measure I develop called the Quality of Internet Access (QoIA), I find evidence that Internet access has affects on ideological and partisan identity. I also find that QoIA affects political engagement positively, specifically in how donations are given to, and solicited by political campaigns. I conclude that the QoIA measurement should be flexibly used and research in taking account for Internet access quality should continue as the inequalities of the digital divide still exist.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Political Science

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

James A. McCann

Additional Committee Member 2

Josh Scacco

Additional Committee Member 3

Molly Scudder

Additional Committee Member 4

Robert X Browning

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