Facebook tokenistic in engagement impact for asylum seekers

Fiona H. McKay and Matthew Dunn examine digital participation and advocacy on asylum seeker issues in Australia.

McKay and Dunn recently published ‘Can online participation on issues of asylum seeking lead to action? Understanding the intent to act’ in the Australian Journal of Psychology. Their research attempts to understand individual participation and willingness to advocate on issues of refuge and asylum seeking. It locates individual participation within a broader discourse that is often contested and controversial.

The study employs an online survey to examine the activities and perspectives of digital participants or subscribers of an asylum seeker support organisation’s Facebook page and newsletter. The survey included 1,688 newsletter subscribers and 2,416 people who ‘liked’ the organisation’s Facebook page. A majority of the respondents were tertiary educated women from Victoria.  

As indicated by the study, respondents who had ‘liked’ the Facebook page were primarily Internet-based in their engagement on asylum seeker issues. The findings suggest that engagement tends to be tokenistic when the cost of engaging action is less. McKay and Dunn present their interpretations of these findings and recommend that organisations find impactful ways to engage such stakeholders.

Fiona H. McKay is a Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia, with research interests in refugee and asylum seeker health and policy. Matthew Dunn is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, with a diverse range of interests that include sports medicine, drug studies, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.        


Photo: Mark Riboldi/Flickr/cc

Published Date: 21 September 2016 Last modified on November 16, 2018

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