Writing graffiti on the Facebook wall: Understanding the online discourse of citizens to politicians during the 2016 Spanish election.

Zurutuza-Munoz, C. and Lilleker, D., 2018. Writing graffiti on the Facebook wall: Understanding the online discourse of citizens to politicians during the 2016 Spanish election. Communication & Society, 31 (3), 27 - 42.

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DOI: 10.15581/003.31.3.27-42

Abstract

Political candidates, elected representatives, party leaders and parties have increasingly colonised Facebook and view it as the third most important media for reaching greater numbers of citizens (Lilleker et al, 2014). While politicians rarely use social media to interact with citizens, providing a space where citizens can contribute comments is a by-product of exploiting these platforms. Theoretically social media platforms are virtual third spaces, a space where citizens can come together independent of their demographics and discuss the important issues of the day. In populating these third spaces citizens offer comments, across forums and pages including those created by political actors. We conceptualise citizen comments as e-expression, (Gibson, 2015) a means for having a voice, being heard and, potentially at least, joining into debate with others. Our research enquires what form of e-expression is found when citizens are commenting on the Facebook posts of political party leaders in the context of an election. We employ a combination of quantitative content analysis and discourse analysis to determine how politician’s use Facebook, the level of citizen comments, their tone, content, and style of communication, whether comments are monologic or dialogic and the structure of dialogic interactions between citizens. The data is drawn from comments made to a sample of posts by Mariano Rajoy, incumbent prime minister and leader of the Popular Party and Pablo Iglesias, leader of the new insurgent Podemos party during the 2016 Spanish general election campaign. These were the leading figures and both divided opinion, hence having similar status but representing contrasting ideological positions (Azagra & González, 2016). Preliminary findings based on analysis of comments to Rajoy only, citizens appear to use these spaces to show support or vent frustration, focusing on the topic of the original post and framed within a context of conflict. Language tends to be civil, arguments tend to be un-evidenced opinions and there is evidence of some dialogue between citizens. Further analysis will determine if this represents a norm of behaviour or if differing leaders gain different styles of comments.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0214-0039
Uncontrolled Keywords:political discourse; e-expression; interactivity; Facebook; Spanish election campaigns
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30931
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:02 Jul 2018 10:48
Last Modified:30 Jul 2018 14:46

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