Does the Internet Use Improve People’s Sense of Social Equity?

  • Wei Zhang
Keywords: Internet use, sense of social equity, non-institutionalized participation, digital divide


The Internet has reconstructed our understanding of the world. As one of the most important indicators to measure the society, people’s sense of social equity is also affected by their use of Internet. In consideration of the incongruity between the dramatic growth of China’s Internet and the online mass incidents happening more often, this paper supposes that the Internet use has a negative effect on people’s sense of social equity in China. Data from the Chinese General Social Survey (2013) confirms this assumption, and the reason behind that can be summarized as follows: (1) the Internet helps people recognize the social realities which may be covered by traditional media sometimes; (2) the non-institutionalized participation in the network space let people know that there are plenty of scope for improvement. Furthermore, this paper analyses the moderating effect of the education and residence on the relationship between Internet use and people’s sense of social equity. And the significant moderating effect suggests that the relationship is relatively flat for higher educated and urban people, but steep for less educated and rural people.