Board of Regents of University of Nebraska, dba University of Nebraska at Omaha

Contact Information

6001 Dodge Street
Omaha, NE 68182 - 0210
(402) 554-2396
FY 2017 National Service and Civic Engagement Research

Executive Summary

Executive Summary

While previous research has identified the important role social networking sites such as Facebook have played in influencing other forms of online and offline civic engagement, additional research is needed to understand these trends among young people within the context of national service. Furthermore, computational social science methods provide an opportunity to obtain more objective data and a more diverse sample of study participants.

We propose a three-phase mixed methods study that examines the relationship between online and offline civic engagement among young people ages 18-29 in the United States. We are particularly interested in the online and offline civic engagement activities of young people who are engaged with national service compared to those who are not engaged in national service. In phase one we will generate a database by scraping data from publicly available national service Facebook pages, groups, and hashtags. In phase two we will conduct a survey about online and offline civic engagement, volunteering, and national service and will recruit participants through a series of targeted Facebook ads. In phase three we will triangulate the online and offline civic engagement data from both data sources to understand trends in online and offline civic engagement among AmeriCorps members, alumni, and interested parties.

This study will yield practical guidance on how we can use social networking sites to increase civic engagement and volunteerism among young people in our communities. This study will also provide guidance around the recruitment of prospective service members and the engagement of AmeriCorps alumni, and will allow the national service network to learn more about the subject matter of online conversations among young people and the way these online interactions may translate to offline civic conversations or action.

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