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Politics

Social Media and Collective Political Action

The closing (!) keynote of Web Science 2016 is presented by Helen Margetts from the Oxford Internet Institute. Her focus is on the use of social media for collective political action – that is, for activities undertaken by citizens with the aim of contributing to the public good. There is a strong feeling that such action is happening, but as yet not enough empirical evidence about how and why it is happening.

Even those who refuse to participate online are somehow caught up in the changes that the Internet has contributed to: our lives are intertwined with its technologies, platforms, and content. And these technosocial spaces also generate a substantial amount of transactional data about user participation that goes well beyond the sort of data – for instance about political attitudes and engagement – that were available in pre-Internet days.

Networks of Caucasian User Groups on VKontakte

The final speaker in this Web Science 2016 session is Daniel Alexandrov, whose interest is in the use of social networking platforms in politics across the Caucasus region. This is a diverse and politically tense region, with several intractable political conflicts.

A First Look at the Political Uses of Quote Retweets

Next up at Web Science 2016 is Yelena Mejova, who presents a paper on the new 'quote retweet' feature that Twitter introduced in April 2015. This form of retweeting includes the retweeted tweet as a URL in the retweet, and can be used for somewhat different purposes from other forms of retweeting: while button retweets may imply an endorsement of the original message, the substantial space for including the retweeter's views in a quote retweet might be used for more critical engagement with the quoted material, for instance.

The Influence of Funding on Chilean Legislative Processes

I'm now in the "Politics and the Web" session at Web Science 2016, and we're starting with a paper by Pablo Loyola, whose focus is on politics in Chile. This work is interested in the collective decision-making processes involved in constructing new legislation, and builds on the voting behaviours of MPs and on drafts-in-progress of new bills. Are these processes influenced by the funding that MPs receive from corporate interests?

Now Out: The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics

It looks like 2016 is destined to start with a bang rather than a whimper: I’m delighted to announce that a major collection I’ve edited with my colleagues Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen in Oslo and Stockholm has now been published. The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics is a 37-chapter, 560-page collection of current research on the uses of social media in political activism and electoral campaigning.

From Anonymous to the Scottish Independence Referendum, from oppositional politics in Azerbaijan to elections in Kenya, the Companion covers a broad range of social media uses and impacts. It combines this with a number of keystone chapters that review and update existing political communication theory for a social media context. My sincere thanks to our many contributors, my co-editors, and especially our hard-working editorial coordinator Nicki Hall for making this publication happen – hope you enjoy it!

Four New Chapters on the Challenges of Doing Twitter Research

One more post before I head home from the AoIR 2015 conference in Phoenix: during the conference, I also received my author’s copy of Hashtag Publics, an excellent new collection edited by Nathan Rambukkana. In this collection, Jean Burgess and I published an updated version of our paper from the ECPR conference in Reykjavík, which conceptualises (some) hashtag communities as ad hoc publics – and Theresa Sauter and I also have a chapter in the book that explores the #auspol hashtag for Australian politics.

Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess. “Twitter Hashtags from Ad Hoc to Calculated Publics.” In Hashtag Publics: The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks, ed. Nathan Rambukkana. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. 13-28.

Theresa Sauter and Axel Bruns. “#auspol: The Hashtag as Community, Event, and Material Object for Engaging with Australian Politics.” In Hashtag Publics: The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks, ed. Nathan Rambukkana. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. 47-60.

Young Estonians' Everyday Political Uses of Social Media

The next AoIR 2015 speaker is Katrin Tiidenberg, whose focus is on young Estonians' social media use. European electoral turnout has been on a steady decline, especially amongst young people, but some forms of non-institutional political participation are on the rise; young people's lives have changed considerably over past decades, and this may have given greater emphasis to everyday political activities over formal political participation.

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