Personal communication via social media brings politicians and parties closer to their potential voters. It allows politicians to communicate faster and reach citizens in a more targeted manner and vice versa, without the intermediate role of mass media. Reactions, feedback, conversations and debates are generated online as well as support and participation for offline events. Messages posted to personal networks are multiplied when shared, which allow new audiences to be reached.
Although the presence of social media is spreading and media use patterns are changing, online political engagement is largely restricted to people already active in politics and on the Internet. Other audiences are less responsive. For example, television news together with print and online newspapers are still the most important sources of political information in most EU Member States.
Social media has reshaped structures and methods of contemporary political communication by influencing the way politicians interact with citizens and each other. However, the role of this phenomenon in increasing political engagement and electoral participation is neither clear nor simple.
12 papers on social media and political participation / seminar organised by La Pietra Dialogues LPD, New York University at Florence. Villa La Pietra, May 10-11 2013.
This website includes twelve papers on social media and political participation presented at a seminar in Florence organised by New York University (La Pietra Dialogues) in May 2013. This seminar covers themes such as democracy and the internet, use of social media in political campaigns, power to mobilise collective actions and mass protests. Presentations study both the US and the European experiences. They give a comprehensive overview of the impact of the changing media landscape to patterns of political participation and the impact of social media in political campaigns.
Social media and political participation
Youth Participation in Democratic Life / London School of Economics, EACEA 2010/03, 2013, 234 p.
This is a thorough study on young peoples’ motivation and readiness to participate politically. The study covers youth (13-30 years old) in Europe. It is divided into six themes, including one on young people and electoral participation.
Women in decision-making the role of the new media for increased political participation / European Parliament Policy Department C, study, PE 493.010, 2013, 122 p.
This study examines through case studies how social media could increase female participation in political discussion. It explores barriers hindering women’s willingness to get engaged in politics. Case studies highlight standards and best practices in the use of new media, with a focus on European political groups, national parties and individual MEPs. Opportunities, weaknesses, strengths and risks of new media in political communication are presented.
Democracy in transition: political participation in the European Union / Dēmētriou, Kyriakos N., Heidelberg: Springer, 2012, EP Library – Brussels
This book analyses the reasons behind citizens’ apathy towards traditional forms of political participation and civic activity in Europe. It sheds light on informal and unconventional ways of political engagement facilitated by technology, notably the internet and social networking. With a combination of theoretical and empirical evidence, this collection of texts examines different factors influencing the concept of citizenship and forms of political participation.
Social media and democracy innovations in participatory politics / Loader Brian, Mercea Dan, London: Routledge, 2012, 275 p.
This ebook, available on the EP intranet, provides analysis on the prominent phenomenon of social media and its impact on civic engagement in various forms. Using evidence-based research, a range of international scholars examine the impact of social media on political communication. Well known cases such as the Obama Presidential campaign, the Arab spring uprisings and UK Uncut demonstrations are presented and analysed.
New models for electoral campaigns: focus on the EU Member States
New political actors in Europe: Beppe Grillo and the M5S/ Jamie Bartlett, Mark Littler, Duncan McDonnell, Caterina Froio; DEMOS; 2013, 70 p.
The M5S Movement in Italy has evolved rapidly to become a significant political player by using social media to engage like-minded people in virtual and real life political action. This study examines the phenomenon of Beppe Grillo and M5S by studying Beppe Grillo’s Facebook followers. In addition, it looks more broadly at the relationship between politics and new forms of communication provided by various social media platforms.
Party Change, Social Media and the Rise of ‘Citizen-initiated’ Campaigning / Rachel K. Gibson, Party Politics, 2013, 16 p.
The impact of the internet on election campaigning is at the core of this article. By examining the 2010 general election in the UK, the author analyses new ways of building an online campaign and the trend of personalisation in politics. The possibility to communicate directly with voters via social media is groundbreaking and essential for the development of citizens-initiated campaigning.
Virtually Members: The Facebook and Twitter Followers of UK Political Parties/ Jamie Bartlett, Sid Bennet, Rutger Birnie and Simon Wibberley; A CASM Briefing Paper; April 2013 DEMOS
This study examines Facebook and Twitter followers of the main UK political parties. Transformation of political communication is analysed by mapping similarities and differences in online communication strategies between the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats. The study describes and examines a new concept of virtual political support. Compared to social media, more traditional forms of political communication seem to lack appeal, especially among young people. According to this study, social media is used increasingly to get people involved in political activities and keep them engaged.
iPolitics : citizens, elections, and governing in the new media era / Richard Logan Fox, Jennifer Ramos, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012, 303 p.
New media, namely Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, facilitate participatory civic engagement in various ways. This collection of essays provides an insight into this changing media landscape and its effect on politics. The book is divided into three sections: Shifting Media Universe and New Consumers, Campaigns and Elections in the New Media Environment, and Civic Mobilization and Governance in the New Information Age. The main focus is on the US, but some countries in Europe and beyond are also covered.
Electoral Campaigns and Online Communication Strategies of MEPs
Strengthening European Democracy: Citizens’ Participation. Which challenges do we face at the European Elections of 2014? / Joseph H. H. Weiler (note 1), Claes H. de Vreese (note 2), European Parliament Policy Department C, PE 493.036, 2013, 38 p.
This publication includes two notes. The first focuses on the 2014 European Elections, which, for the first time, gave voters the opportunity to influence the choice of the next President of the European Commission. Professor Joseph H. H. Weiler examines the prospects and risks related to this procedure. The second note focuses on citizens’ participation in voting. The evolution of media communication and its relation with politics is illustrated by the presentation of various studies on the media coverage of previous European elections and the factors influencing media attention and voter turnout are identified. Professor Claes H. de Vreese also provides an analytical overview of new forms of political participation on the internet i.e. social media.
Members of the European Parliament Online: The Use of Social Media in Political Marketing / Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic, Centre for European Studies (CES), 2013, 42 p.
This study explores the use of social media in political marketing with a focus on Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). It examines how the increasing use of the internet is reflected in political communication strategies. It touches on possible reasons for the disengagement of citizens in politics and the low level of voting turnout in European Elections. The author also studies attitudes towards the use of social media and views on its importance for European politics today. To conclude, it presents suggestions on how social media tools could be used in EU-level political campaigns.
Online Political Communication Strategies: MEPs, E-Representation, and Self-Representation / Darren G. Lillekerab, Karolina Koc-Michalskac, Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2013, 19 p.
This comparative view, covering 27 Member States, offers an analysis of different styles of online communication strategies used by MEPs. Strategies are grouped in three categories: homestyle, impression management, and participatory.
Online social networks and micro-blogging in political campaigning / Maurice Vergeer; Liesbeth Hermans, Steven Sams, Party Politics 2011, 26 p.
This article on political communication strategies focuses on micro-blogging, namely Twitter, and social networking. It studies candidates who campaigned in the European Elections and reveals differences between candidates from different political groups. In addition, it highlights variations in communication strategies and activity in, during and between election campaigns. At the time of this study, Twitter was at an early development stage.
2009 European Parliamentary Elections on the Web. A mediatization perspective / Michailidou, Asimina; Trenz, Hans-Jörg; Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo (ARENA), 2010, 21 p.
Media is the primary intermediary in between politics and citizens. In this article, on-line debates in twelve member-states held during the 2009 European elections are studied using several indicators, such as publicity, inclusion, and degree of contention.
Politicians Online! MEP Communication Strategies in the Internet Era / Braghiroli, Stefano; European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN), 2010, 16 p.
This paper examines internet communication strategies used by MEPs in the 6th legislature by analysing their individual websites. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are applied to analyse communication between MEPs and citizens.
Public opinion and statistics
Europeans’ Engagement in Participatory Democracy / Flash Eurobarometer 373, Report, March 2013, 63 p. Summary
European Youth: participation in democratic life / Flash Eurobarometer 375, Report, May 2013, 83 p. Summary
Media use in the European Union: report / Standard Eurobarometer 78, European Commission, Autumn 2012, 55 p.
Internet access and use in 2012: More than half of internet users post messages to social media… …and over 60% read news online / Eurostat news release, December 2012
Individuals using the Internet for posting messages to social media sites or instant messaging / Eurostat dataset details
The word ‘media’ is derived from the word medium, signifying mode or carrier. Media is intended to reach and address a large target group or audience. The word was first used in respect of books and newspapers i.e. print media and with the advent of technology, media now encompasses television, movies, radio and internet. In today’s world, media becomes as essential as our daily needs. Media of today is playing an outstanding role in creating and shaping of public opinion and strengthening of society.
Media is the sword arm of democracy. Media acts as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness. Today when politicians are taking full advantage of their positions, an evil nexus of mafia and crime syndicate is making the life of the common man miserable, taxpayer’s money is siphoned out for the personal gain of the influential and ordinary people are a mere spectator-media has a grater responsibility As the fourth pillar of democracy along with judiciary, executive and legislature, media of today has an all embracing role to act against the injustice, oppression, misdeeds and partiality of our society.
From the days abode, media has remained an integral part of human civilization. From the days of Vedas and Upanishads to edicts of kings and emperors like Chandragupta, Asoka to the medieval Indian mass gatherings to the modern day’s audio video and print media, media has always taken a pivotal role in shaping our society. During the days of freedom struggle newspapers like Tilak’s Maratha, Mahatmaji’s young India acted as a platform to place the demands of common Indian and to express solitude with freedom fighters. Indian media in post independence era has grown up phenomenally and today comprises of more than 50,000 newspapers, hundreds of television and radio channels.
In this era of liberalistion, privatisation and globalisation(LPG) the world has reached our drawing room thanks to media. Since the introduction of television in our country in late 70’s visual media becomes a very potential tool in informing the current news to the society, entertaining the people and shaping up of public opinion. The World Wide Web and web 2.0 technologies have given rise to electronic media where even a common man can express views through blogs, website posts, facebook and twitter like social media. Coupled with traditional print media all these audio video and social media caters to a richly diversified media industry in India.
Media helps in fighting against corruption, nepotism, cronyism of institutional machinery and carrying out relentless campaign against them. Way back in independent India from the Mundra case to the jeep scandal to the hawala case to the kickbacks received in different defense deals- Indian media performs commendably in exposing the corrupted highly placed statesman. In recent scams from commonwealth to 2G, exposed thanks to television and print media, media acted as a catalyst to government action compelling government to swing into action including suspending ministers and putting ministers into jail. Who can forget the crusade taken by Indian media in the Nirbhaya rape case and shaping the public opinion in one of the most heinous crimes the world has ever witnessed. Without media, the news of government schemes and benefits would have never reached the target audience.
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