Face to face(book): Social media, political campaigning and the unbearable lightness of being there

Ross, Karen and Bürger, Tobias (2014) Face to face(book): Social media, political campaigning and the unbearable lightness of being there. Political Science, 66 (1). pp. 46-62. ISSN 0032-3187

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0032318714534106


It is undoubtedly true that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are influencing the ways in which politicians engage the public, no longer hostage to the gatekeeping proclivities of traditional media, but now able to broadcast their messages to anyone who wants to hear them. On the public’s side, we can now follow politicians who are on Twitter or have a Facebook fan page, comment on their tweets and posts, and send them messages directly. So far, so democratic. But how many of us actually do more than just read posts and tweets and how many politicians do more than just inform us about their activities? Crucially, do politicians use social media in ways that enhance opportunities for dialogue between them and us? To explore these questions further in relation to politicians’ Facebook behaviours, we interviewed New Zealand Members of Parliament about their motivations for using social media and their attitudes on such media’s effectiveness as a political communication tool in the context of a general election campaign. Our findings suggest that despite their talk of citizen engagement, most politicians use social media as means of distributing information (one-way flow) and to make themselves both visible and ‘hip’ to the public. While cautiously optimistic about the role of social media in the lives of citizens, Members of Parliament also suggest that social media must be complementary to, and thus incorporated in, a broad-based communications strategy, rather than be seen as a replacement for traditional campaign activities.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: democracy, Facebook, New Zealand, political campaigns, politicians, social media
Subjects: L200 Politics
P300 Media studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2014 08:08
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 15:02
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/16588

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