Engagement and participation
This chapter introduces the main debates around the characteristics, processes and practices of participation. Key aspects of this include: levels of participation, and the relationship between public, private and civic life in shaping participation. To assess the role of social media in political culture requires addressing the characteristics of participation in civic and political life. The focus on the relationship between public and private life highlights how individuals interpret and reflect on their own concerns, as well as the ways they relate to wider political and civic issues. The chapter discusses these issues to lay the basis for considering social media and political culture. The interactions between personal and public interests indicate that political culture is something that is 'lived', since people actively interpret issues within the contexts of their own lives and in relation to the lives of others. This reveals the inter-relationship between engagement and participation which is often blurred in terms of communication.