Lokalt nybrott? Sosiale medier som arena for lokal valgkamp

Signe Bock Segaard, Jeppe Agger Nielsen


Local breakthrough? Social media as arena for local election campaign

Social media as democratic arenas for opinion sharing and discussions between elected politicians and voters have been described as a vision of the new media. The topic has been a research subject in several years, but there is a lack of research on how social media is used in local election campaigns. The article investigates the use of selected social media, political election blogs, as arenas for campaigns in the Norwegian local elections of 2011. For that purpose we first develop two models of political communication in social media that conceptualise the horizontal and vertical conversation along three dimensions: participants, interaction and the level of nuance. Secondly, we use the models in an empirical study of the use of the election blogs. We base the study on two data sources: a content registration of local blogs and Google Analytics. The analysis demonstrates that the election blogs primarily are used by those who are most politically active in advance and that the majority of participation consists of one-way information dissemination with little exchange of information and opinions. But we also find that the blogs provide an information space more detailed than traditional election rhetoric and that it is myth that the «tone» in online debates always is hard, concise and person fixed. The experiences from the Norwegian local elections indicate that the usage of social media has not yet constituted a vital democratic frontier regarding mass mobilizing, but also that the fear of the logic of marketing is unfounded. The reason is the effect of the institutional conditions and the fact that it is possible «to steer» the conversation online.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413