Do social media change the influence of citizens?


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Presentatie op 22 mei 2013 bij de studievereniging Sirius van de Universiteit Twente over de digitalisering van het openbaar bestuur.

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Do social media change the influence of citizens?

  1. 1. Do social media changethe political influence of citizens?Chris Aalbertswww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  2. 2. Who am I?Researcher and lecturer• Relationship between citizens and politics• Topics such as: populism, social media, Europe, etc.www.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  3. 3. Representative democracy• Citizens choose their political representatives• These politicians make all political decisions• Representatives are dependent on the popular voteCore idea is:• Citizens have the final say• Citizens do not have everyday influence• Often seen as old-fashionedwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  4. 4. Direct democracy• Citizens have a direct influence on decisions• Citizens make decisions themselves• Instead of or together with politiciansCore idea is:• Citizens have everyday influence• Ideal which is not everyday practice• Often seen as good for critical citizenswww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  5. 5. Role of the internet• Direct democracy works only in small groups• Representative democracy is more efficient• Internet makes direct democracy a real option• Citizens can voice their opinions together• This is useful in representative democracy too• Politicians will know what their citizens thinkwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  6. 6. www.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  7. 7. Politically active on sociale media?Many users of social media• Facebook• Hyves• LinkedIn• Twitter• Citizens talk about politics on social media• Research on which opinions can be heardwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  8. 8. Who are these citizens?• Social media are used by almost everyone• But does every user use them for political purposes?Specific target group• Higher educated• Youth• Menwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  9. 9. Which opinions are heard?• Do these citizens have the same opinions as the restof the population?Example: diplome democracy• Higher educated are most prominent• Different opinions and different interests• Different party preferences• Probably the same for the youngwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  10. 10. Organising different interests• Citizens can raise their voice together• These are the same citizens as in other contexts• Sometimes supported by NGOsExamples• Protests against 1040 hours of school a year• Protest against the local authorities in Amsterdam• And many morewww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  11. 11. www.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  12. 12. Is listening important for politicians?Politicians have become more insecure• Floating voters• Less members of political parties• Smaller number of volunteers• Many parties have become very similar• Less support for policies• The rise of populismwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  13. 13. Are politicians able to listen?Listening is not a main task• For many politicians, politics is a part time jobPoliticians have many other tasks• Having meetings• Having contact with their political party• Collecting information about political issues• Reading documents• Contacts with the mediawww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  14. 14. Are politicians willing to listen?The interest of politicians is to listen• More citizens will vote for them• Party leaders will put them on the list of candidates• Leads to attention from the media• Gives them more status• Gives them a more modern imagewww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  15. 15. www.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  16. 16. Is the information relevant?Citizens bring irrelevant information• Opinions that lack a factual basis• Many facts that were already known• Problem is to find new information• No guarantee what there is something valuable in allcitizen’s responseswww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  17. 17. Whose information is this?• Politicians know what the opinions of citizens are• But who are these citizens?• High chance that it is a specific target groupNo idea whether the information is representative for• The population• Party members• Voterswww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  18. 18. What is the value?Experience does not give any hope• The content is often useless• Time to read responses is unrelated to the value ofthe informationSolutions• Not read any responses and not giving answers• Send thank you notes• Send everyone the same replywww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  19. 19. www.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  20. 20. What would happen…The same citizens would be active• A majority is not politically active• The majority will only vote• Many people do not vote already at the moment• Politically active citizens still feel this would be good• They will have the chance to be even more influential• The existing problem will be worsewww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  21. 21. www.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  22. 22. Similarities• Small group of citizens is very active• Many citizens want politicians who listen• Many efforts to influence politicians• Politicians communicate to citizens (one-way)• Real dialogue is still difficult• Direct influence on policies is smallwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  23. 23. Differences• Expectation that politicians are able to listen• More pressure on politicians to have a dialogue• Possibly: more influence of citizenswww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius
  24. 24. Conclusion• Internet changes a lot, on the first sightBut after some reflection…• Citizens’ behaviours will not change• Citizens do not have other interests• Theoretical options will not be usedwww.chrisaalberts.nlSirius