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Accepted Paper:

Digital Political Participation in Rural Kazakhstan: Evidence from Three Villages  
Yerkebulan Sairambay (SDU University)


This paper examines how and why new media are used by young people in political participation in rural areas of Kazakhstan. Drawing on Qualtrics surveys (n=400), semi-structured interviews (n=13), and focus groups (n=5) conducted in three villages (poselki) in Kazakhstan, Aiteke Bi, Maqat, and Tobyl, between July 2019 and November 2020, I demonstrate how and why young villagers use new media as ‘political spectators’ and ‘virtual agora’. My results show that the number of online activists and observers is growing in all three villages; however, according to the lived-experiences and viewpoints of my respondents, apolitical people predominate. While investigating these usages, I also found that new media enhances young people’s ‘political tool kit’ (political interest, political knowledge, political efficacy, and political standpoint) in villages owing to the Internet, social media, and digital tools. This enhancement in the form of civic engagement is crucial for new-media-led political participation. The study sheds light on how and why new media are used in rural digital political participation, advancing our knowledge of non-Western political systems.

Panel MED2
Dynamics of New Media: Challenges and Opportunities
  Session 1 Saturday 8 June, 2024, -