Special Issue "Social Media and Political Participation"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Terri Towner
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Political Science, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309, USA
Interests: American politics; public opinion; campaign and elections; social media and politics; race and ethnicity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Social media’s role in politics, campaigning, and elections has been the focus of scholarly research for over a decade. Scholars have examined how political candidates, parties, and citizens use social media during campaigns as well as how social media influences citizens’ political attitudes and behaviors. Despite extensive study, the empirical literature linking social media use and attention, particularly Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to political participation is mixed and thus, inconclusive. Some research suggests that social media facilitates and promotes political and civic participation whereas other research does not. Therefore, this special issue seeks to further clarify the link between social media and political engagement. This call is particularly interested in research that examines relatively understudied social media platforms, such as Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, and SnapChat. In addition, this call encourages submissions that examine many forms of political participation, as this concept can be a multidimensional activity including voting, protesting, marching, blogging, tweeting, volunteering, sharing online content, emailing, and more.

Submissions are sought from a broad array of disciplines, perspectives, and nations, representing a diverse collection of topics, including, but not limited to:

-          Social media and political participation

-          Social media and election outcomes

-          Social media and political attitudes

-          Social media as a campaign tool

-          Social media and mass media, particularly the role of social media in reporting political news

-          Social media and interest/advocacy groups

-          Social media and social movements

-          Social media and government/e-government

-          Social media and democracy

-          Social media users and their characteristics in the context of political participation

Prof. Terri Towner
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Social media
  • New Media
  • Internet
  • Political participation
  • Civic participation
  • Elections
  • Campaigns
  • Politics
  • Mass media

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Vahid Online: Post-2009 Iran and the Politics of Citizen Media Convergence
Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(4), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci5040077 - 30 Nov 2016
Abstract
An attempt is made to study the social network site, Vahid Online, pseudonym of a leading Iranian activist who has the largest social media followership online. Vahid Online is Iran’s leading distributor of information about social and political news about Iran, a source [...] Read more.
An attempt is made to study the social network site, Vahid Online, pseudonym of a leading Iranian activist who has the largest social media followership online. Vahid Online is Iran’s leading distributor of information about social and political news about Iran, a source of information used by citizens and journalists. Similar to Twitter, Vahid Online posts, shares, and communicates news in short messages with hyperlinks, hashtags, or internet slang for multimedia purposes. In this networking media space, citizen journalism is assumed the civic responsibility of news and information dissemination with a perceived conception of internet as an agency of change. Vahid Online, I argue, is representative of an individuated networking activism in the new technology for information production. Technology, likewise, is imagined as a political agency and, in turn, citizenship is redefined through technology that carries the promise of change. It is also argued that Vahid Online’s conception of citizen journalism is directly born out of the Green Movement in 2009, a protest movement against the 2009 presidential elections with a self-image of networked citizenship with a relative reliance on a weak tie model of civic association. The notion of citizen journalism examined here is one of civic participatory activism in archiving the collection, reporting, and dissemination of news through the merging of diverse media technologies in an attempt to create and distribute the most impact spreading news. The paper finally offers a critical analysis and argues that Vahid Online is more about individuated network framing of a privileged politics through practice of new technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Political Participation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Angry and Alone: Demographic Characteristics of Those Who Post to Online Comment Sections
Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(4), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci5040068 - 26 Oct 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
The Internet and social media afford individuals the opportunity to post their thoughts instantaneously and largely without filters. While this has tremendous democratic potential, it also raises questions about the quality of the discourse these technological changes portend. Online comment sections may be [...] Read more.
The Internet and social media afford individuals the opportunity to post their thoughts instantaneously and largely without filters. While this has tremendous democratic potential, it also raises questions about the quality of the discourse these technological changes portend. Online comment sections may be a particularly unique form of communication within social media to investigate because of their ubiquitous and often anonymous nature. A longitudinal examination of Pew Center data over the course of 4 years suggests that there are demographic differences between people who post and those who do not post to online comment sections. Specifically, in 2008 and 2010 regression analysis demonstrates there is an increased likelihood of posting among men, the unmarried, and the unemployed. However, the 2012 data tells a different story and suggests the possibility that the nature of comment sections might be changing. The findings have important implications for understanding the character of online discourse as well as the vitriol undergirding the political attitudes of disaffected citizens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Political Participation)
Open AccessArticle
Netflix and Engage? Implications for Streaming Television on Political Participation during the 2016 US Presidential Campaign
Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci5040065 - 21 Oct 2016
Cited by 10
Abstract
A large body of existing research has consistently demonstrated that the use of social networking sites (SNS) by citizens in elections is positively related to different forms of both offline and online participation. The opposite argument, however, is often advanced with regard to [...] Read more.
A large body of existing research has consistently demonstrated that the use of social networking sites (SNS) by citizens in elections is positively related to different forms of both offline and online participation. The opposite argument, however, is often advanced with regard to increased viewing broadcast or cable television, particularly entertainment programming. This study proceeds from this broad vantage point by examining survey-based indicators of active SNS use and conventional television viewing in the 2016 presidential primaries, as well as the frequency of streaming television viewing during the early stages of this campaign. Data for this study was drawn from a representative nationwide online panel, and findings observed here suggest that more personalized communication through the ongoing morphology of social networking sites and streaming both political and apolitical television content are significant factors in positively shaping both online and offline participation. Comparisons with other media including conventional television viewing are introduced, and theoretical implications from a media system dependency framework are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Political Participation)
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Open AccessArticle
Boomers versus Millennials: Online Media Influence on Media Performance and Candidate Evaluations
Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(4), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci5040056 - 29 Sep 2016
Cited by 10
Abstract
Facebook posts, YouTube videos, tweets and wooing political bloggers have become standard practice in marketing political campaigns. Research has demonstrated the effect of new media on a host of politically-related behavior, including political participation, knowledge acquisition, group formation and self-efficacy. Yet, issues related [...] Read more.
Facebook posts, YouTube videos, tweets and wooing political bloggers have become standard practice in marketing political campaigns. Research has demonstrated the effect of new media on a host of politically-related behavior, including political participation, knowledge acquisition, group formation and self-efficacy. Yet, issues related to media trust, media performance and candidate evaluations have not been fully explored. In addition, much of the political marketing research looks exclusively at the Millennial age cohort, ignoring other age groups, particularly Baby Boomers. This case study addresses whether attention to traditional (i.e., television, hard-copy newspapers and radio) and online media sources (i.e., political candidate websites, television network websites, online newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and political blogs) about the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign influences Millennials and Baby Boomers’ media trust and performance ratings, as well as candidate evaluations. Panel surveys were completed by both age cohorts, Millennials (n = 431) and Baby Boomers (n = 360), during the last two weeks of the presidential election. Findings indicate that traditional sources, specifically television, rather than online sources are significantly linked to media trust and performance ratings among both Boomers and Millennials. Attention to traditional media for campaign information predicts Boomers’ candidate evaluations, whereas Millennials’ candidate evaluations are influenced by online sources, such as Facebook and candidate websites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Political Participation)
Open AccessArticle
Children’s Civic Engagement in the Scratch Online Community
Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(4), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci5040055 - 29 Sep 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
In public discourse, and in the governance of online communities, young people are often denied agency. Children are frequently considered objects to protect, safeguard, and manage. Yet as children go online from very early ages, they develop emergent forms of civic and political [...] Read more.
In public discourse, and in the governance of online communities, young people are often denied agency. Children are frequently considered objects to protect, safeguard, and manage. Yet as children go online from very early ages, they develop emergent forms of civic and political engagement. Children appropriate the affordances of digital platforms in order to discuss, connect, and act with their peers and in their communities. In this paper, we analyze civic engagement in Scratch Online, a creative community where children from around the world learn programming by designing and sharing interactive media projects. We explore the ways that young Scratch community members connect with issues of global importance, as well as with local topics and questions of community governance. We develop a typology of the strategies they use to express themselves, engage with their peers, and call for action. We then analyze the reaction of the community, including other Scratch members and adult moderators, and draw key lessons from these examples in order to describe guidelines for educators and designers who would like to support children’s rights to civic engagement in online learning environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Political Participation)
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Open AccessArticle
Support for Protests in Latin America: Classifications and the Role of Online Networking
Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(4), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci5040058 - 28 Sep 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
In recent years, Latin Americans marched the streets in a wave of protests that swept almost every country in the region. Yet few studies have assessed how Latin Americans support various forms of protest, and how new technologies affect attitudes toward protest tactics. [...] Read more.
In recent years, Latin Americans marched the streets in a wave of protests that swept almost every country in the region. Yet few studies have assessed how Latin Americans support various forms of protest, and how new technologies affect attitudes toward protest tactics. Using data from the Latin American Public Opinion Project (N = 37,102), cluster analyses grouped citizens into four distinct groups depending on their support for protests. Most Latin Americans support moderate forms of protest, rejecting more radical tactics. Online networking is associated with support for both moderate and radical protests. But those who support only moderate protests use online networking sites more than Latin Americans as a whole, while those who support radical protests use online networking sites significantly less. Our findings suggest that only peaceful and legal demonstrations have been normalized in the region, and online networking foments support for moderate protest tactics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Political Participation)
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Open AccessArticle
Piracy and the Politics of Social Media
Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(3), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci5030041 - 05 Aug 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
Since the 1990s, the understanding of how and where politics are made has changed radically. Scholars such as Ulrich Beck and Maria Bakardjieva have discussed how political agency is enacted outside of conventional party organizations, and political struggles increasingly focus on single issues. [...] Read more.
Since the 1990s, the understanding of how and where politics are made has changed radically. Scholars such as Ulrich Beck and Maria Bakardjieva have discussed how political agency is enacted outside of conventional party organizations, and political struggles increasingly focus on single issues. Over the past two decades, this transformation of politics has become common knowledge, not only in academic research but also in the general political discourse. Recently, the proliferation of digital activism and the political use of social media are often understood to enforce these tendencies. This article analyzes the Pirate Party in relation to these theories, relying on almost 30 interviews with active Pirate Party members from different parts of the world. The Pirate Party was initially formed in 2006, focusing on copyright, piracy, and digital privacy. Over the years, it has developed into a more general democracy movement, with an interest in a wider range of issues. This article analyzes how the party’s initial focus on information politics and social media connects to a wider range of political issues and to other social movements, such as Arab Spring protests and Occupy Wall Street. Finally, it discusses how this challenges the understanding of information politics as a single issue agenda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Political Participation)
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