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Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency
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Glennon Knowles Researching the virtual constituency

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Researching the virtual constituency: methods for analysing politicians’ use of social media

Researching the virtual constituency: methods for analysing politicians’ use of social media

Published in: Education, Technology, Business
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  • 1. @JoanneKnowlesUK @RussGlennon Liverpool John Moores University
  • 2.  Rooted in research on social media and public relations theory & practice, and in teaching practices on 2 modules, Public Communication (L5) & Mass Communications: Policy & Practice (L6) on the Media, Culture, Communication degree programme  Social media have been posited as having the capacity to address accelerating public disengagement from politics, by enabling models of two-way symmetrical communication (Grunig & Hunt, 1984)  However, does e-campaigning actually replicate the patterns of offline campaigning (Vergeer, Hermans & Sams, 2011) and thus reinforce existing patterns of political and institutional dominance?  How can a tool feted for its global reach be effectively used for dialogue with local publics?  Likewise, how can they be used effectively at a local level with students?
  • 3.  Research training for students in both quantitative & qualitative approaches  Given pedagogical emphasis on developing the student as researcher (HEA; Healey & Jenkins, 2009) seeking to build an understanding of, and experience of, the research process into teaching sessions wherever possible  Content analysis forms part of Level 4 study and enables students to see how quantitative & qualitative approaches can be used in combination  Students can also test out the stages of conducting an analysis: selecting material, identifying categories for coding, carrying out coding and analysing the outcomes
  • 4.  ‘A research technique based upon measuring (counting) the amount of something (violence, [...] women, professional types, or whatever) in a random sampling of some forms of communication(such as comics, sitcoms, soap operas, news shows)’ (Berger, 1991, p.92)  A research technique for making replicable and valid inferences from data to their context’ (Krippendorff, 1980, p.21)  ‘The systematic, objective, quantitative analysis of message characteristics’ (Neuendorf, 2002, p.1)
  • 5.  Content analysis as offering ability to conduct qualitative & quantitative analysis and to scope out areas of interest for project in future  Opportunity sample of MPs – 10/15 selected  Research questions turned into draft coding structure, developed out of that used in Graham et al’s 2013 analysis of 2010 General Election  Coded against six main headings: type of tweet; content of tweet; primary topic; level at which the issue resides; level that the tweet focuses upon; hashtag use  Initial collection period January 2014: N=961
  • 6.  Most focuses on the USA (Bimber and Copeland, 2013) with some also on EU elections (Lodge and Sarikakis, 2013; (Vergeer, Hermans and Sams, 2011) & national elections within Europe (Plotkowiak and Stanoevska-Slabeva, 2013; Graham et al. 2013) with some transnational work (Hyun, 2013)  Often either quantitative surveys of frequency (Lamarre &Suzuki-Lambrecht, 2013) or studies of public response within very specific period (Anstead and O’Loughlin, 2011)  Has either a national or local focus, but rarely addresses tensions between the two  We chose to examine a period not occupied by an active election campaign, examining how the PR objective of creating, maintaining and enhancing relationships over the long term was addressed (L’Etang, 2004) and how local and national publics were being addressed
  • 7. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 1/1/14 1/2/14 1/3/14 1/4/14 1/5/14 1/6/14 1/7/14 1/8/14 1/9/14 1/10/14 1/11/14 1/12/14 1/13/14 1/14/14 1/15/14 1/16/14 1/17/14 1/18/14 1/19/14 1/20/14 1/21/14 1/22/14 1/23/14 1/24/14 1/25/14 1/26/14 1/27/14 1/28/14 1/29/14 1/30/14 1/31/14 AE AM BE EM JP LB LE ME SR ST
  • 8. 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 National issue, national focus Local issue, local focus National issue, local focus International issue, Int focus International issue, nat focus International issue, local focus National issue, regional focus Regional issue, regional focus International issue, regional focus Regional issue, local focus
  • 9. 27% 10% 48% 3% 0% 10% 1% Broadcast Mentions Retweet Retweet with comments Retweet with mentions Reply Public reply
  • 10. OPPORTUNITIES  Allows students to practice research techniques, and critical evaluation, on material with which they are familiar and engaged  Consequently students are more likely to integrate this into their independent and self-directed learning  Relevance to a wide range of humanities, education and social science fields of study CHALLENGES  Difficulties of accessing and storing ephemeral material  Referencing!  The medium is not the message  Questions of scope: managing a potentially large amount of data

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