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From Maastricht to Brexit by Richard Bellamy and Dario Castiglione

Social Media and the Dynamics of Public Opinion: New Avenues for Research

Political Psychology
Workshop Number
Workshop Director
Robert Johns
University of Essex
Workshop Co-Director
Maria Laura Sudulich
University of Essex

Ever since the term ‘CNN effect’ was coined to describe the impact of a 24-hour news cycle, it has been clear that public opinion was subject to constant potential influence and flux. Unfortunately, survey research, the traditional method of charting public sentiment, is slow. It is also expensive. And survey measures of public opinion are inevitably constrained by questionnaires, with little room for spontaneous expressions of opinion. Crucially, none of these limitations apply to the measurement of public opinion via social media ‘big data’. Measurement is continuous and instantaneous, providing a live monitor of public mood that can be tracked through a presidential debate, an election campaign, a foreign policy crisis, or a full parliamentary term. Respondents need not be persuaded or paid but participate voluntarily. And data from Twitter, Facebook, and so on are genuinely observational and non-reactive rather than manufactured, capturing the shades and flavours of public opinion. However, while the advent of the Internet (and especially Web 2.0) has occupied scholars studying party campaigning, elite communication and citizen participation, only recently has attention turned to social media as an outlet for the expression – and hence the measurement – of public opinion. This workshop is about understanding that source of data, exploiting it as far as possible, and recognising its limitations. We welcome three broad types of papers: empirical studies of public mood via social media; methodological work generating and validating social media measures of opinion; and theoretical contributions on the nature of public opinion measured via social media or on the role of these forums in processes of democratic deliberation and representation.

Paper List

Title Details
#refugee: The Formation and Issue Forming Function of Hashtags in Political Debate View Paper Details
A Whole New Ball Game or Not? A Comparative Analysis on the Content of the Print Media News and Tweets Circling the 2015 Turkish Elections View Paper Details
Agora: A Conceptual Exploration of the Link Between Social Media as Public Space, and Direct, Representative and Deliberative Democracy View Paper Details
Issue Salience on Twitter During the Swedish Pre-Electoral Party Leader Debates View Paper Details
On-line Dynamics of the Far-Right and Far-Left. The Case of the September 2015 Parliamentary Election in Greece View Paper Details
Politicizing Europe: The Twitter Debate During the 2015 Spanish General Elections View Paper Details
Public Opinion on Twitter from a Political Elite Point of View. A Conceptualization, Empirical Exploration and Discussion of the (Dis)advantages of Alternative Approaches View Paper Details
Read it on Reddit: Canadian Politics on a Deliberative Numeric Platform View Paper Details
Reflecting and Mediating Public Opinion: Twitter and the 2015 UK General Election View Paper Details
Regularity and Irregularities of Online Participation: The Scottish Referendum on Facebook and Twitter View Paper Details
Second Screen Effects on Candidate Performance Evaluations during the 2013 Televised German Candidate Debate View Paper Details
Something Old, Something New…: Assessing Public Opinion by Validating Social Media Data View Paper Details
Talk is Cheap: Selective Politicization of EU Dimension in the 2014 EP Elections View Paper Details
The Hashtag Election? Social Media in the 2015 UK General Elections View Paper Details
The Meaning of 'Public' and 'Opinion' when using Big Data to Study Public Opinion View Paper Details
The Need for Conceptual Metaphors and Qualitative Analysis to Capture Spontaneous Expressions of Opinion in the EU Twitter Profiles View Paper Details
To #VoteLeave or #StrongerIn? What Can Twitter Tell us About Cognitive Framing in the EU Referendum Debate View Paper Details
What Happens Inside a Public Opinion? A Micro-Level Approach View Paper Details
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