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Session Overview
RN32_09a_IC: Changing Political Landscapes: Entrepreneurship and Social Media
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Gabriella Szabó, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of S
Location: Intercontinental - Ypsilon III
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Level 1

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ICTs and Contentious Collective Action in the Digital Age: A synthetic, comparative framework

Jun Liu

University of Copenhagen, Denmark

In recent years, the scholarship on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and contentious collective action – such as revolutions, riots, protests, and demonstrations – has developed appreciably as an exciting, relevant, but highly contested field in political sociology. Despite enduring interest, proliferating interrogation, and substantial deliberation on the role of ICTs in political activism and social movements over the past decade, existing literature from different disciplines still rarely achieves a consistent framework for the analysis of how ICTs transform contentious collective action for social changes. To advance the field, this study outlines a communication-centered framework that views communication as a key mechanism in distributing political opportunities, maneuvering mobilizing structures, shaping cultural framing, articulating contested meanings, and facilitating relational dynamics among these interrelated factors. Acknowledging ICTs as the context for communication and action, the proposed focus overcomes technological determinism by reemphasizing human beings – precisely their communicative practices and networks – as political agency in contention. By centralizing and sensitizing communication dynamics, the framework suggests an explicit focus on communication – including different degrees of communication and metacommunication – to dissect (technologically mediated) collective actions in different spatiotemporal contexts.

Another campaign will be tweeted: social parainstitutions and digital public sphere in electoral campaigns in Spain, 2008-2015

Josep Lobera1, Victor Sampedro2

1Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain; 2Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain

Studies on offline political participation have for a long time demonstrated a deep participatory divide between those participating a lot – a minority – and a vast majority of citizens taking part to very few political activities (Gaxie, 1978 and 1993). However, according to proponents of the "(new) mobilization" paradigm (Hirzalla, van Zoonen and Ridder, 2011), the Internet would have lowered the threshold of participation and allowed new citizens to participate in political life.

Using three original post-electoral surveys, we analyze the evolution of the political uses of the Internet in the Spanish General Elections of 2008, 2011 and 2015. In 2015, for the first time in an election campaign in Spain, social media had a higher political influence than written press, radio and off-line relations. Television, nevertheless, has remained the most influential medium during the electoral campaign. Also as a novelty in an electoral campaign, in 2015 the organizations or citizen platforms managed to spread their political messages in Internet to a greater extent than candidates or political parties. Some of them have practically been institutionalized, as Internet-based social parainstitutions (Peña-López et al., 2014). We also identify the social factors associated with the political use of the Internet. On-line and off-line political participation are strongly associated, and they are mediated by the frequency of Internet use. On-line political participation is also associated with ideology.

Do echo chambers really exist? Social behaviour of internet users on the Polish political parties’ Facebook pages

Paweł Matuszewski

Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Poland

In the recent years, researchers noticed that there’s a growing political polarization. Some of them argue that it is a consequence of social media and their machine learning algorithms that recommend content a user is likely to be interested in. As a result, social media create ‘echo chambers’, where people are exposed to mostly conforming opinions. The main research question is whether Facebook users really choose to seek information from one-sided sources. Two types of behaviour were taken into consideration. The first one concerns the patterns of liking, i.e. do Facebook users like Facebook posts of just one political party or do they also like content published by other parties? The diversification of likes can show how homogeneous or heterogeneous are the fans of political parties and whether they react to political information from different sources. The second question is about sources of knowledge Facebook users refer to. Do they refer to the same websites regardless of political fan page where the discussion is held or do the fans of certain political parties prefer a specific group of information sources? In the presentation, I use data on Facebook users’ behaviour collected automatically from Polish political parties’ and their leaders’ fan pages in 2015 and 2016.

Entrepreneurship in Finnish Political Discourse

Henri Koskinen, Arttu Saarinen

University of Turku, Finland

In this presentation, we analyze how the political reasoning concerning entrepreneurship in Finland has changed from the late 1970s until 2015.

Entrepreneurship in the post-industrial era is increasingly seen as an attitude and a way of life rather than as solely economic action, and the criteria of an entrepreneur are increasingly associated with those of a good citizen. Entrepreneurial capabilities are seen as normative in working life and are integral components of post-industrial subjectivity that citizens are asked to adopt.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship from the political authorities’ perspective is seen as a means of creating jobs, i.e. a source of employment in the post-industrial labor market. Finland’s current Government has defined entrepreneurship as a crucial factor in Finland’s strategy to overcome the lengthened economic recession.

In our analysis we use the Foucauldian ideas about governmentality as a general theoretical framework. In our analysis, entrepreneurship is viewed as a historically constructed discourse and we are interested in the changes this discourse has undergone and how they affect political reasoning. Empirically the focus is on the following questions:

1) What are the contexts of entrepreneurship in the data?

2) How is entrepreneuship framed?

3) Do the meanings given to entrepreneurship change throughout the data? If so, how?

The analysis is based on a large set of political documents (government programs, different party programs and party documents) from year 1979 to 2015. These programs summarize the policies of each government and eight different political parties. Methods of analysis are discourse analysis and quantitative content analysis. We have focused on the moral values, vocabulary (idioms, concepts etc.) and subjectivation (motivation, activation, capacities etc.).

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