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Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations for Participating in Digitally-networked Action

Sat, August 11, 10:30am to 12:10pm, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 4, Franklin Hall 13


Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations have been widely studied in social psychology and in some fields of sociology, such as religion, education, and work/occupations. These motivations can be associated with greater commitment and productivity, but have not been thoroughly studied in the field of social movements. Recently, communications researchers (Lilleker and Koc-Michalska 2016) made a novel attempt to incorporate intrinsic and extrinsic motivations into the study of political participation. However, their research does not incorporate sociological understandings of online social movement activity, nor does it measure intrinsic motivation faithfully.

The present research will study the impact of both motivations on one’s decision to participate in online social movement activities. Online activities will be classified based on their underlying “logic of action” (or, strategy for organizing), namely the more familiar “logic of collective action” and the emergent “logic of connective action,” which is a more personalized and expressive form of participation (Bennett and Segerberg 2013, Olson 1965).

Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, online survey respondents expressed their level of motivation for performing different tasks associated with each strategy for organizing, as well as their intended behavior toward Facebook posts selected to exemplify each type of logic.

Results indicate that intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are highly correlated, but that extrinsic motivations are the primary driver of online participation, especially under a logic of collective action. These findings support Bennett and Segerberg’s assertion that online actions are not monolithic and ought to be measured discretely. There is also evidence that the logic of collective action operates differently in an online context than it does offline.