doxa.comunicación | 30, pp. 55-77 | 57

January-June of 2020

Marcos Zumárraga-Espinosa

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

such as the oil exploitation of a part of the Yasuní National Park, reforms to higher education, modifications to the penal code, among others (Basabe-Serrano & Martínez, 2014).

2. Social media, digital political behaviour and offline political protest

The digital environment and innovations in communication technologies continually redefine the modes of political action of governments, political organizations, social movements and citizens in general. From a sociological perspective, online political participation is part of a change in the way new generations do politics, who show greater preference for political activities of an expressive and unconventional nature (including acts of protest), as well as linking to a lesser extent with traditional political parties (Calenda & Meijer, 2009). Thus, social networks, and their use as a political tool, have generated beneficial effects both on the usual practices of political groups and on the participation options of individuals. The digital sphere substantially reduces communication costs, enabling political organizations and social movements to expand the scope of their actions in terms of mobilization and recruitment (Krueger, 2006; Theocharis et al., 2015). Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter open up the possibility of spreading large-scale mobilizing messages directly and indirectly (Gibson, 2015; Lee, 2019). The latter involves letting members of organizations take a more active and autonomous role in the creation, personalization or communication of content to mobilize the support of their contacts, with particular relevance to those weak ties that digital social networks allow to make visible and increase (Anduiza et al., 2014; Enjolras, Steen-Johnsen & Wollebak, 2013; Gustafsson, 2012). The messages disseminated via social media partly explain the involvement in political protests of those who decide to support a specific cause spontaneously (Theocharis et al., 2015). As a result, political groups are able to reach the critical mass needed to coordinate collective actions more quickly and at lower cost thanks to the facilities provided by social media (Valenzuela, Arriagada & Scherman, 2012).

At the individual level, the frequency of social media use has been found to be associated with offline political participation. According to the meta-analysis developed by Boulianne (2015) from empirical studies generated in developed and developing countries, the use of social network sites tends to have significant effects on offline political participation, whether of the type conventional or protest. In deepening the explanation of this relationship, the findings of the specialized literature point to the occurrence of mediating processes such as the transition to political use of these digital platforms, whether for informational or expressive reasons. In other words, the more social media presence, the more likely someone is to consume more political information deliberately or incidentally (Bode & Dalrymple, 2016; Choi, 2016; Shah et al., 2007; Tang & Lee, 2013). Similar effect is observed around the expression of political views and opinions (Gil de Zúñiga, Molyneux & Zheng, 2014; Ji, Zhou & Kim, 2017; Shah et al., 2007; Yang & DeHart, 2016). As a result, informational or expressive political behaviour developed through spaces such as Facebook or Twitter help to promote the individual political dimension, thus increasing the probability to participate in offline political activities (Cho et al., 2009; Jung, Kim & Gil de Zúñiga, 2011; Lenzi et al., 2015; Wang, 2007; Yamamoto, Kushin & Dalisay, 2015).

From a theoretical perspective, models focused on the study of communication effects argue that the consumption and dissemination of information of a political nature has a positive impact on the political behaviour of citizens. Initial research based on the paradigm of direct communication effects suggests that the use of the media to search for information on