This Time It’s Personal: Social Networks, Viral Politics and Identity Management

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This paper deals with new forms of political mobilisation and participation in social media. The main focus is on the importance of social networks in
providing a “media filter”, functioning as a kind of collective gatekeeper to spread news and information perceived as important, in contrast to the image of the single individual media consumer faced with an insurmountable mass of information. I argue that by investing one’s personal ethos in spreading information and encourage peers in the personal social network to political participation, vital news and calls for action spread quickly. A form of viral politics ensues that, in concordance with traditional types of mediation and formation of political opinion, might provide a basis for a new type of political elite in competitive democracy. Drawing on earlier research concerning the effect of social capital created by weak ties on political participation, I argue that social networks organised online provide a new type of post-organisational weak ties, functioning as maintained social capital building institutions, encouraging to and organising actions of civic engagement. More specifically, a case is made for the need for more thorough conceptualisation of new modes of participation: spontaneous, individualised, “unorganised” forms of action. Two concepts, “temporal elites” and “viral politics” are developed for describing how social network membership and density determine how people are recruited to political campaigns. The theoretical assumptions are further illustrated by the preliminary empirical findings of an ongoing study of Swedish Facebook users and their attitudes and behaviour concerning political participation in social media
Titel på värdpublikationThe Real and the Virtual
RedaktörerDaniel Riha, Anna Maj
FörlagInter-Disciplinary Press
ISBN (tryckt)978-1-84888-012-2
StatusPublished - 2009

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Statsvetenskap


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