Publications by Wayne Buente (bibliography)
Buente, Wayne (2011): Modeling citizenship information behavior and political action. In: Proceedings of the 2011 iConference 2011. pp. 842-843.
My research examines one of the cornerstones of democratic systems, the notion of an informed public [Kranich 2001]. Democratic ideals exalt the "good citizen," implying that citizens be fully informed to fulfill their obligations. Although scholars have recognized the importance of information to citizenship, there are opportunities to further examine the relationship between information behavior and democratic action. This research provides a persuasive link between understanding citizen information behavior and political outcomes. According to a recent Pew report, 59% of Americans get offline or online news on a typical day [Purcell et al. 2010); however only 19% of Internet users become politically active online [Smith et al. 2009]. What this suggests is that rich information environments do not necessarily lead to political action. An important question is why increased citizen online information practices have not resulted in greater information use for political action. Savolanien  argues that information use is not well-studied and has largely focused on information seeking; there is a "dearth of theoretical and methodological approaches to information use" (p. 1116). This research models citizen information behavior and online political action. It applies an interdisciplinary approach that integrates and extends current research in information and political behavior as it relates to citizenship and political participation in the United States. A research model was developed that explains how citizens become politically active in an online context. Standard linear models of the antecedents of political behavior [Boulianne 2009] and the comprehensive model of information seeking [Johnson 2003] are applied to inform a heuristic model that assumes that having political information and knowledge leads to politically active citizenship. In other words, political information is the "currency of citizenship" [Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996] that links citizen information seeking and information use. Two national surveys conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project are used to test the heuristic model. Surveys utilized a random digital sample of telephone numbers selected from exchanges in the continental United States. These surveys represent national probability samples of more than 1000 respondents which are rare in information behavior research [Case 2007]. Logistic and ordinal regression procedures using maximum likelihood estimates comprise the secondary analysis of the survey data. Findings reveal three important antecedents for understanding online citizen information needs and use: frequency of Internet use, political beliefs, and political interest. Socioeconomic states (SES) variables and frequent Internet use contribute significantly for acquiring political information online. Political beliefs constrain citizen information seeking and lead to increased evidence of information avoidance. Political interest is the strongest predictor for explaining citizen political information use and political action. Based on this empirical analysis, the road to becoming an Internet user to a well-informed citizen to an actively engaged citizen is a challenge. The Internet does reduce the cost of citizen political information behavior but other factors such as motivation and beliefs need to be included if the ideals of an informed public are to be realized through information use and political action.
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Buente, Wayne and Robbin, Alice (2008): Trends in Internet information behavior, 2000-2004. In JASIST - Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59 (11) pp. 1743-1760.
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