Dimensions of Political Knowledge and Types of Political Participation
Author: Shiow-duan Hawang, Jun-deh Wu, Yi-bin Chang, & Chiung-chu Lin
Abstract / Chinese PDF Download
Political knowledge is an important factor influencing political participation. When people have higher political knowledge, they are more likely to participate in political activities. However, political knowledge has different dimensions, and political participation also has different types. Does the same dimension of political knowledge have the same influence on different types of political participation? Do different dimensions of political knowledge have different effects on the same type of political participation? Few scholars have answered these questions so far.
This paper distinguishes between three dimensions of political knowledge: people, institutions, and policies and issues. Political participation is also classified into three categories: voting, election-related activities, and unconventional participation (deliberate petitions, sit-in protests, or demonstrations). Based on the literature and theoretical deductions, this paper develops three hypotheses. First, in voting participation, knowledge of politicians has a higher influence. Second, in the participation of election-related activities, knowledge of institutions has a higher influence. Third, in unconventional political participation, knowledge of policies and issues has a higher influence.
This paper analyzes data collected from a telephone survey conducted after the Taiwanese 2016 presidential election. The results show that, first, none of the dimensions of political knowledge have influence on voting participation. Second, all three of the dimensions affect the participation of campaign-related activities. Among them, the institution dimension has the greatest influence. Third, the institution dimension and the policy dimension both have influence on unconventional political participation, with the former being greater. To sum up, different dimensions of political knowledge do have different effects on each type of political participation.