Hybrid Civic Activism as a Tool for Building Social Inclusion
Modern democracies around the world are threatened by growing political populism and intolerance. This fact is prominent especially in the Balkan region, where the effect of violent ethnic conflict is still present. Empirical data from this region registered low level of political engagement, high ethnic stereotyping and distance toward non-majority groups. We examined the effects of activism in real and virtual worlds on social distance toward minority groups, and how it is mediated by belief in a just world, political interest, political anomie and cynicism. We employed analysis of national representative survey data on adult citizens, collected through face to face method in Serbia in 2017 (N=1258). Survey design has been used to investigate the extent to which common forms of online/offline civic activity mediated by different psychological constructs foster offline forms of social inclusion of marginal groups. Results confirmed that both online and offline activities can have a positive effect on social inclusion in real world by reducing political anomie and cynicism and belief in a just world, and increasing political interest. This research highlights the importance of fostering different types of civic activism because the impact of political engagement in the real and even more in the virtual world leads to a reduction of social distance toward minority groups in reality. Data suggested that broadening platforms for civic engagement could be an effective strategy in building social inclusion.