MPSA 2009 - Socio-political profile of Quebec-based political bloggers
Structure of the presentation1. Current state of the research;2. Overview of the Quebec blogosphere and its members;3. Rising profile of political blogs;4. Research objectives;5. Methodological considerations;6. Results; Demographical analysis; Online political behavioural profile; Offline political behavioural profile.7. Discussion.
Current state of the research • Politically-oriented blogs: Publicly-available; Low-cost; Single or multi-authored (coproduction-oriented); Limited to no external editorial oversight; Publication of politically-oriented facts and arguments; Ideologically-driven or partisan in nature; Content and human-interactive features. • Growingly important source of information: 2006 Midterm U.S. Elections: 20% of Web users got political news only, up from 9% in 2004; “One of the keys” to the rising “popularity of blog readingSources; Sweetser and Kaye, 2008; Drezner and Farrell, 2008; Pirch, 2008; Rainie and Horrigan, 2006; Adamic and Glance, 2007;
Current state of the research • Political blogosphere studied in several national contexts: United States; Canada; Europe. • Many research projects focused on “A-list bloggers”: High profile; Opinion leaders (influential): Recipient of large numbers of inbound links; Quoted by conventional media organizations; Heavily trafficked “information hubs”. Potentially unrepresentative and distorted characterization of the blogosphereSources; Wallsten, 2005, 2007; Munger, 2008; McKenna, 2007; Xenos, 2008; Bar-Ilan, 2005; Perlmutter, 2008; Woodly, 2008.
Current state of the research • Different research methods and objectives: Quantitative (descriptive): Content; Structure. Qualitative: Political orientation of publications; Bloggers self-introduction techniques; Etc. • Majority of politically-oriented blogs known as “filter”: • Heavy use of hyperlinks; • Emergence of “gated cybercommunities” favouring “enclaved deliberations”; • Mapping the blogosphere.Sources; Su, Wang et al., 2005, Hinduja and Patchin, 2009; Park, 2009; Trammell, 2007; Tremayne, 2005; Xenos, 2008; Veenstra, Sayre et al., 2007
Current state of the research • Previous research on the political blogosphere: Many wide-ranging studies, but few comprising political dimensions: National; Local. Few studies on the socio-political profile of political bloggers: Study of the Swedish blogosphere (Kullin, 2006): Study of the U.S. political blogosphere: Most comprehensive Wallsten (2008); McKenna (2007); McKenna and Pole (2004).Sources; Lenhart and Fox, 2006; Nardi, Schiano et al., 2004; Wallsten, 2008; McKenna and Pole, 2004; McKenna, 2007; Kullin, 2006.
Quebec blogosphere and its participants • Characterization of weblog research in Canada: Initial stages; Most studies focusing on English language blogs in the United States; Few studies published on the Canadian context: Overview of the structure of the Canadian political blogosphere (Braaten, 2005); Canadian Parliamentary blogosphere (Small, 2008); Influence of Canadian bloggers on the press (Chu, 2007); Content analysis of Canadian political blogs (Koop and Jansen, 2007)Sources; Braaten, 2005; Small, 2008; Chu, 2007; Koop and Jansen, 2007;; Trammell, Takowski et al., 2007
Quebec blogosphere and its participants • Quebec is a Canadian province characterized by its specificities: Cultural; Economic; Linguistic; Political. • Potentially sharp distinctions with North American studies; • Small size of the Quebec political blogosphere (representativeness of the sample); Estimated 125 Quebec-based political bloggers. • Few studies on the socio-political profile of bloggers;Sources; Fournier, 2001, 2002; Rocher, 2002; Wallsten, 2005; Hinduja and Patchin, 2008; Qian and Scott, 2007; Schmidt, 2007
Quebec blogosphere and its participants • Growing interest of Quebec-based Web users for the blogosphere: Data 26% of Quebec-based Internet users have read at least one blog; 8% have authored at least one weblogSource; CEFRIO, 2008
Rising profile of political blogs • Growing levels of distrust of conventional media organizations; Political coverage revolving around strategy-oriented news frames; tendency to provide interpretative coverage of political news; Content fuelling political distrust among the public. • Increasing reliance on Web-based communication channels for political information and opinion: News credibility of the Web hard to evaluate. • Rising importance of blogs: Publication platforms enabling audience participation; Growing popularity; Etc.Sources; Best and Kueger,2005; Sweetser and Kaid, 2008, Druckman, 2005; Jones, 2004; De Vreese and Elenbaas, 2008; Kushin, Yamamoto et al., 2009.
Research objectives • Political and media environment increasingly turning to “gatewatching”-oriented processes; • Research objectives: Provide a socio-demographical portrait of Quebec- based political bloggers; Define their political preferences and interests. • Research hypotheses: Emerging Quebec blogging community will contain highly politically-engaged and sophisticated individuals; Quebec-based political bloggers are more likely to be predominantly conservative.Sources; Bowers and Stoller, 2005; Ackland, 2005; Kavanaugh and Patterson, 2001: 499; Polat, 2005: 451; Jackson and Lilleker, 2007: 245.
Methodological considerations• Publicly-available secure online survey available from April 15th 2008 to May 1st 2008 inclusively;• 58 questions unevenly distributed in seven sections of different sizes addressing specific themes;• Constitution of the research sample was twofold: Selection of 22 A-list political bloggers; snowball technique used in a viral dissemination approach for the information circulation of the survey: Research sample Through A-list bloggers; Through conventional 56 respondents; media representatives 73% of A-list bloggers; (journalists). 71% recruited through the viral procedure.
Results• Socio-demographical profile of Quebec-based political bloggers: Data Men(84%); 18-35 years-old (54%); Completed university degree(54%); Members of the active workforce (54%); Annual income exceeding 25 000$ Quebec-based (CAN) (64%); political blogger French is the mother tongue (92.7%).
Results• Geographical distribution of Quebec-based political bloggers: Québec (29%) Montréal (46%) Quebec-based political blogger
Results • Political preferences of Quebec-based political bloggers: Data 63% have left-leaning political views: Progressivism; Socialism; Communism. 21.4% have right-leaning political views; 3.6% defined themselves as greens or ecologists. The U.S. conservative blogging community was “two to three times as large” than its progressive counterpart in 2003.Source; Bowers and Stoller, 2005.
Results • Positions on issues specific to the Quebec political environment: Data 66% support the project of the political sovereignty of Quebec; 21.4% oppose the project of the political sorereignty of Quebec; 13% did not answer the questions Among the general public, the level of support varies between 39% and 54%.Sources; Léger Marketing, 2008; Béland and Lecours, 2006.
Results• Time spent online by Quebec-based political bloggers: Time spent online Percetage of bloggers Less than 15 hours online per week 32.7% 20 hours online per week 25.5% 25 hours online per week 10.9% 40 hours online per week 7.3% Online socio-political behavioural profile
Results• Years spent in the blogosphere by the respondents: Years spent in the blogosphere Percetage of bloggers Less than one (1) year 16% More than one (1) year 83% More than three (3) years 34% More than five (5) years 14%• Quebec-based political bloggers dedicate an average of de 23,16 hours to their blog(s) per week. Online socio-political behavioural profile
Results• Characterization of their publications: Characteristics Percetage of bloggers Majority of posts comprising 77% politically-oriented information Partisan tone 50% Focusing on provincial, regional 68% or local political matters Focusing on international 15% political matters Focusing on Canadian federal 5% issues Online socio-political behavioural profile
Results• Presence of Quebec-based bloggers on social networking platforms: Data 67.9% of Quebec-based political bloggers are usingWeb-based social networking services. Online socio-political behavioural profile
Results• Quebec-based political bloggers’ voting behaviour: 2007 Quebec 2006 Canadian Provincial elections Federal elections 88% voted 84% voted• Quebec population’s participation in the elections: 2007 Quebec 2006 Canadian Provincial elections Federal elections 88% voted 84% voted Offline socio-political behavioural profile
Results• Quebec-based political bloggers’ political preferences during the 2007 Quebec Provincial election: Political party Level of support among bloggers Liberal Party of Quebec 5.4% Parti Québécois 35.7% Action Démocratique 10.7% Québec Solidaire 16.1% Green Party of Quebec 5.4% Offline socio-political behavioural profile
Results• Quebec-based political bloggers’ political preferences during the 2006 Canadian Federal election: Political party Level of support among bloggers Liberal Party of Canada 1.8% Bloc Québécois 41.1% Conservative Party of Canada 12.5% New Democratic Party 14.3% Offline socio-political behavioural profile
Discussion• Here are elements to consider: Impact of the blogosphere on mainstream political actors; Future of research: Importance to consider specificities within the blogosphere: Geographical concerns; Demographical characteristics of bloggers; Etc. QUESTIONS