Cristina Zurutuza-Muñoz e-mail(Login required) , Darren Lilleker e-mail(Login required)

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Cristina Zurutuza-Muñoz e-mail(Login required)
Darren Lilleker e-mail(Login required)

Abstract

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The goal of this research is to examine what form of e-expression we can find from citizens commenting on the Facebook posts of political party leaders in the context of an election. We employ quantitative content analysis, involving the coding of styles of e-expression and counting their occurrences, 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. We conceptualise citizen comments as e-expression a means for having a voice, being heard and, potentially at least, joining debates with others. The results of this research show that dynamics on Facebook pages offer an opportunity for understanding wider political dynamics in a society. It is suggested that both exogenous macro-political and endogenous micro-platform factors shape the patterns of discourse found on the social media pages of these leaders and that studying these platforms can indicate trends in wider society and how social media can accentuate attitudes towards political platforms and leaders.

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Special Issue: Political Communication in Uncertain Times. Digital Technologies, Citizen Participation and Open Governance