News Politics Twitter — Snurb, 10 January 2012
Gearing Up for the Election(s)

We’ve got a few busy years ahead of us, it seems. In addition to the ARC Linkage project on social media and crisis communication which was awarded to us (the QUT Mapping Online Publics team along with our CCI colleague Kate Crawford, the Queensland Department of Community Safety, and the Eidos Institute), which we’ll carry out during 2012-14, we’ve also had word in December that another project application has been successful.

Titled “The Impact of Social Media on Agenda-Setting in Election Campaigns:
Cross-Media and Cross-National Comparisons”, that project will study the use of social media in a series of election campaigns which are coming up over the next few years (2012-15) – including the Queensland state election and the US presidential election this year (and I’m tempted to throw in the French presidential election as well, just for fun), and elections in Sweden, Norway, and Australia which are coming up in 2013 and 2014.

The project is led by Gunn Enli at the University of Oslo, and also involves Eli Skogerbø at Oslo, Hallvard Moe from the University of Bergen (currently visiting the CCI), Christian Christensen at the University of Uppsala, and Kevin Wallsten at California State University. It’s funded by the Norwegian Research Council, who have awarded us the impressive sum of 9.9m NOK (a still impressive 1.5m in Australian Dollars). Here’s the project overview:

The Impact of Social Media on Agenda-Setting in Election Campaigns: Cross-Media and Cross-National Comparisons

The project has as its primary objective to establish new and unique knowledge on the interaction and inter-media agenda-setting between social media and mainstream media in different cultural and political settings. The findings of the project will provide empirical insights into the development of hybrid public spheres, and contribute to refining and revising theories on political communication in cross-national environments.

The project will establish a high quality international research network, involving some of the leading scholars on social media, internationally as well as in Norway, Sweden, USA and Australia. The publications from the project will contribute to the ongoing international scholarly debate on the role of social media in public communication across the world.

Social media not only serve as arenas for debate and discussion, they are also increasingly integrated in inter-media agenda-setting, as they serve as input to the mainstream media. Political actors as well as citizens use them in order to draw attention to issues and manage their public images. The increasing cross-mediality between the social media and the mainstream media can be described in terms of creating “hybrid public spheres” in which the social and mainstream media overlap and interact. The project takes a cross-media and cross-national approach, by researching political communication in election campaigns in Australia, Norway, Sweden and USA.

The project has one overall and three sub-RQs:

  • What characterizes the dynamics between social media and mainstream media in political agenda-setting, and how does this dynamic impact the relationship between politicians and voters in different political systems?
  • What characterizes politicians’ use of social media as a tool of political communication in countries of different size and with different election systems, and to what degree has political debate migrated from mainstream media to social media?
  • What characterizes the dynamics between social media and mainstream media in agenda setting during election campaigns, and to what degree do journalists in different nations relate to and incorporate social media as editorial raw material?
  • What characterizes the ‘hybrid public sphere’ in the intersection between social media and mainstream media, and to what degree are traditional power hierarchies and elite domination challenged in the new hybrid public sphere?

Feature image by hiddedevries.

About the Author

Dr Axel Bruns leads the QUT Social Media Research Group. He is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Bruns is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008) and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of Twitter and Society, A Companion to New Media Dynamics and Uses of Blogs (2006). He is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. His research Website is at snurb.info, and he tweets as @snurb_dot_info.

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