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Self-efficacy as a factor in evaluation of e-petitions

E-petitions are seen as one response to a perceived decline in public trust of political institutions and the associated symptoms of disengagement. In this paper, some current research into e-petitioning in Europe is reviewed, and the need to understand the context behind the expectations and perceptions of citizens and petitioners in the process is considered.

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) is presented as an approach which broadens the analysis beyond perceived outcomes and gives prominence to the concept of computer self-efficacy in using e-participation applications, and parallels are drawn with citizens’ belief in their ability to successfully interact with the political system as a whole – ie political self-efficacy. Consideration is given to the points at which evaluation data can be collected at stages of the petitioning process.