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presentation at the Conference for E-democracy, 2011, Krems

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  • The elections 2010 - first in Sweden where social networking sites was used to a large extent by politicians and parties in their campaigns. Nina Larsson - young female politician - 30’s - Folkpartiet (the Liberal Party) V ärm land constituency (Midwest of Sweden) - contacted the web agency Hello Clarice - campaign for re-election online through facebook, twitter, a special campaign website and two blogs, as a complement to traditional campaigning. focused on blogs - one personal political blog, symbol and design wise tied to her political party, and one blog connected to a regional newspaper VF ( V ärm lands Folkblad ). The overall research question for what purposes. In other words, what rationalities governed her blogging practices
  • This is her in action at a debate at the University
  • Last year - not talk so much - expressive rationality - instead of CR and IR - theoretical paper - background to this research project - Also in research SNS and Political Communication - instrumental - effects studies - or Deliberative - Internet Utopist - deliberative potential
  • processes of individualization are given priority over the collectively shared cultural frames of references that dominated social spaces and their organization in modernity (such as family, nation, class, party affiliation et cetera). Fragmentation along lines of media consumption, lifestyles, tastes, ethnicity My starting points in soc. Late Modernity - goes hand in hand with technology - dev. in tandem - pointing towards ER
  • Today with digital technology, processes of individualization tend to become more networked in character The negotiation of oneself as a unique individual becomes impossible without visibility, and constant updating in, and of, self-selected/ created social networks online, where connecting your self to other nodes in the network with their supposed connotations, are central for negotiating, managing and monitoring the own subject. In this way the emerging digital media landscape gets conflated with pluralisation of lifestyles, tastes and subcultures that in turn work in tandem with our times manageable and negotiable individuality - Digital Late Modernity ER - identity rather deliberation or purely ego purposes
  • Trad pol part down Instead of joining a political party and vote, we experience new forms of expressing political engagement and new ways of participating that rather underline the late modern preoccupation with identity negotiation - life politics and sub politics
  • SNSs and Internet - a double role - On the one hand it could be argued that individual political blogs and facebook pages reinforce the processes that undermine a democratic system based on identification with traditional political parties whp has their roots in the popular movements of modernity. On the other hand SNSs have been discussed as instruments for political parties’ election campaigning, not least through Obama’s presidential campaign 2008 where much of his support and electorate engagement was initiated and staged with the help of SNSs - DD
  • Ninalarsson.se have been up and running since 2006, and is constructed as a blog where postings with more obvious political angle are communicated.
  • On the regional newspaper V äm lands Folkblad (VF), Nina had a blog since 2008.
  • communicative rationality to frame her campaign, offline as well as online. It is about coming in contact with her constituency, discuss and listen to the different sentiments among the voters. Nina opposes an instrumental use of blogs and claims that many politicians still use them as a megaphone, as another channel to broadcast their statements. She conceives the blogs more of as platforms for dialogue. But if I go beyond this fa cad e of a communicative rational discourse - instrumental purposes - such as being visible - becoming re-elected - getting new voters to her and her political party. It does not really seem that the so-called dialogue on her blogs should lead to, or bring about consensus. Through coaching by Hello Clarice she confirms that she have become more daring in her postings and more provocative in her tone - This attracts readers Hence, to be exposed to a large amount of readers that might not always agree, seems to be of greater importance for Nina when posting on ninalarsson.se than reaching consensus and agree upon an issue.
  • A closer study indicates that the more provocative and personal tone actually have not led to more comments. On ninalarsson.se there was only one discussion with over 12 comments. It was when commenting on the Animal Rights movements attack on Swedish farms. Things gets nasty quick.. The overall picture emerging of Nina’s use of ninalarsson.se blog is that it is framed in a mix of a communicative rational discourse of increasing dialogue with citizens, and a more instrumental purpose of being exposed to as many potential voters as possible though provoking debate with people with diverging opinions. However, when such a debate finally is happening it seems hard to maintain.
  • Talking with Nina about her blogging practices and purposes she underlines the possibility for her to put forward her own version in her own media channels. Researchers have discussed whether the Internet contributes with ways for politicians, and others, to circumvent the media logic that established and commercial offline-media have set up Studying the postings on ninalarsson.se it seems Nina rather uses the blog to position herself in relation to traditional media, whose stories and angles she has no influence over, not to circumvent traditional offline media channels.
  • - For example in one posting she comments an investigative journalistic TV show scrutinizing the presence of MPs during voting. She was mentioned as one politician being absent at many parliamentary votes.
  • In another posting she comments the editorial of leading national newspaper. In this way established media channels are setting the agenda for her blog posting practice . More than 60 percent of the postings on ninalarsson.se refer to media texts initially broadcasted offline If Nina for example writes a debate article in a daily newspaper, or appear on TV or Radio, this will almost automatically generate a blog posting often linking to the original appearance.
  • She also links to, and comments on, current news stories and other politicians debate articles - Ninalarsson.se is also largely used to promote the Liberal Party, to reinforce the political messages that other Liberals have been communicating in both offline media, as well as on their blogs and social media platforms. A virtual patting the backs of fellow party comrades seems to take place in form of multiplying and commending each others appearances. Measuring the links in and out of ninalarsson.se to other blogs, up to 90 percent were to, and came from, other liberal party members - This illustrates the kind of network individualsim It seems that it is important for Nina to connect her political persona to other liberals in her network through linking to and commenting on each others blog postings.
  • The use of ninalarsson.se and its purpose seems more to deal with negotiating the image of her as a politician. In this way she uses ninalarsson.se to put forward her versions of stories being discussed in newspapers and TV shows, promote own media appearances and those of fellow party members. My conclusion is that it is the expression and negotiation of the politician Nina that is in the foreground for her blogging practice. This becomes even more obvious when studying the other blog on the regional newspaper VF
  • The postings on the VF blog are more private in its character compared to ninalarsson.se. The postings do not address political matters as directly as on ninalarsson.se. Instead her postings are more connected to her feelings about her life and job as a politician, and also to some parts of her private life Indeed the strategy for the VF blog what makes this a great posting is that Nina s t eps out of her role as a politician and is just Nina
  • Nina says that the image she wants transmit on the VF blog is as engaged and hardworking, both at work and at home. In other words she is negotiating her identity as a politician. This is about a form of impression management/ monitoring or expressive rationality where identity negotiation is at the foreground for the political expressions that take place on the blogs she uses. Ninas explains that with the above picture she wants to combat the image of a politician tha tj u st sits and drink cocktails and lives the highlife taking cabs everywhere.
  • The negotiation of Nina as a Liberal Party politician seems to be in the forefront of her use of blogs before the 2010 elections. At the same time Nina make use of both communicative rational, as well as instrumental, discourse in order to understand and make her blogging practices meaningful. I argue however that expressive rationality should not be set aside for studying and understanding political practices Negotiating identity does not necessarily have to undermine democracy in a wider understanding of the notion. - Life politics/ Subpolitics - The retreat from traditional representative institutions of democracy is accompanied by an opening up of new political dimensions that does not have to be carried by large political collectives. Out of this reasoning Nina’s uses of SNS are contradictory. On the one hand she takes part in the media and communication platforms that undermine identification with large political collectives. We could thus proclaim the death of political parties and the rise of the self-made non-affiliated politician. On the other hand Nina uses the communication platforms mostly to interact with other party members and politicians. This is where I believe we have to return to the idea of interconnectedness of individualism and collectivism. In order for Nina to be the politician she is, and to negotiate her political identity, she needs others, particularly she needs party comrades as resources for maintaining and confirming her political persona. My conclusion then is that social networking sites will not make political parties inadequate. But they will contribute to processes of networked individualization of connected western societies and an increasing personalization of politics. However, personalization of politics may not necessarily lead to end of political parties. So what happened to Nina after the elections? Nina Larsson was not immediately re-elected by the V äm land voters 2010, but eventually she got to keep her seat in the parliament due to a so-called adjustment mandat that was awarded the Liberal Party in the V äm land constituency. After the elections she was also promoted to the Liberal’s Party Secretary since her predecessor was appointed Minister for Integration in the new government.
  • Edem11

    1. 1. Monitoring the Political Self A Study of a Swedish Politician’s Blogging Practices before the 2010 Elections Jakob Svensson Presentation EDEM11 Danube University Krems
    2. 2. <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical Starting Points </li></ul><ul><li>The Study </li></ul><ul><li>Results </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>- Discussion </li></ul>Outline
    3. 3. <ul><li>- Elections 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>- Nina Larsson </li></ul><ul><li>How did she use her blogs up to the elections, and for what purpopses? </li></ul>Background
    4. 5. Theoretical Starting Points
    5. 6. Theoretical Starting Points - Rationalities
    6. 7. Theoretical Starting Points <ul><li>- Rationalities </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Late Modernity </li></ul>
    7. 8. Theoretical Starting Points <ul><li>- Rationalities </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Late Modernity </li></ul><ul><li>Networked Individualism </li></ul>
    8. 9. Theoretical Starting Points <ul><li>- Rationalities </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Late Modernity </li></ul><ul><li>Networked Individualism </li></ul><ul><li>Individualism and Democracy </li></ul>
    9. 10. Theoretical Starting Points <ul><li>- Rationalities </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Late Modernity </li></ul><ul><li>Networked Individualism </li></ul><ul><li>Individualism and Democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Internet and Democracy </li></ul>
    10. 11. The Study <ul><li>(N)ethnographic </li></ul><ul><li>Two Blogs </li></ul>
    11. 14. Results How did she use the blogs?
    12. 15. Results <ul><li>Both instrumental and communicative rational discourses were used </li></ul>
    13. 16. Results <ul><li>Something else is also going on… </li></ul>
    14. 17. Results <ul><li>Blogs as an amplifier </li></ul>
    15. 20. Results <ul><li>Blogs as an amplifier </li></ul><ul><li>The Liberal support club </li></ul>
    16. 21. Results <ul><li>Blogs as an amplifier </li></ul><ul><li>The Liberal support club </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor the image of her political self </li></ul>
    17. 24. Conclusion <ul><li>Negotiating of herself in the forefront </li></ul><ul><li>Political Parties in this negotiation </li></ul>
    18. 25. Thank you for listening [email_address]