Publisher: Cogitatio   (Total: 4 journals)   [Sort alphabetically]

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Media and Communication     Open Access   (Followers: 14)
Politics and Governance     Open Access   (Followers: 10, SJR: 0.372, CiteScore: 1)
Urban Planning     Open Access   (Followers: 7)
Social Inclusion     Open Access   (Followers: 2, SJR: 0.395, CiteScore: 1)
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Media and Communication
Number of Followers: 14  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 2183-2439
Published by Cogitatio Homepage  [4 journals]
  • Does Social Media Use Matter' A Case Study of the 2018 Irish Abortion

    • Authors: Theresa Reidy; Jane Suiter
      Abstract: The role of social media at electoral events is much speculated upon. Wide-ranging effects, and often critical evaluations, are attributed to commentary, discussions, and advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, and many other platforms. But the specific effects of these social media during campaigns, especially referendum campaigns, remain under-studied. This thematic issue is a very valuable contribution for precisely this reason. Using the 2018 abortion referendum in Ireland as an illustrative case, this commentary argues for greater research on social media at referendum campaigns, more critical evaluation of the claims and counterclaims about social media effects, often aired widely without substantive evidence, and, finally, for robust, coordinated cross-national regulation of all digital platforms in line with global democratic norms.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:03 +000
  • Do Intensive Public Debates on Direct-Democratic Ballots Narrow the Gender
           Gap in Social Media Use'

    • Authors: Laurent Bernhard; Daniel Kübler
      Abstract: Despite the growing importance of new technologies, research on individual opinion formation in the digital domain is still in its infancy. This article empirically examines citizens’ use of social media in the context of direct democracy. Based on previous work, we expect men to form their opinions on social media more frequently than women (gender gap hypothesis). In the second step, we focus on the contextual level by examining the role campaigns play in reducing this discrepancy. More specifically, we hypothesize that the presumed gender gap narrows in accordance with the increasing intensity of public debates that precede ballots (interaction hypothesis). The empirical analysis draws on 13 post-ballot surveys held at Switzerland’s federal level from 2016 to 2020 and supports both the gender gap and the interaction hypotheses.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:02 +000
  • Level Playing Field or Politics as Usual' Equalization–Normalization
           in Direct Democratic Online Campaigns

    • Authors: Michaela Fischer; Fabrizio Gilardi
      Abstract: Are digital technologies leveling the playing field or reinforcing existing power relations and structures' This question lies at the core of the equalization vs. normalization debate. The equalization thesis states that the affordances of digital technologies help less-powerful political actors to compete with their more resource-rich counterparts, thereby overcoming structural disadvantages inherent to the political landscape. The normalization thesis, in contrast, suggests that more powerful and resource-rich political actors outperform their weaker competitors in the digital sphere by establishing a more sophisticated online presence, thus reproducing existing power imbalances. An overwhelming majority of studies on the equalizing vs. normalizing effect of digital technologies focus on electoral campaigns or non-electoral periods. Direct democratic campaigns have not been adequately considered in previous studies. This study exploits the regularly held and institutionalized character of direct democratic votes in Switzerland. Specifically, it investigates political actors’ level of activity and generated engagement on Facebook and in newspapers during all direct democratic campaigns from 2010–2020. Applying the equalization vs. normalization lens to Swiss direct democratic campaigns over an 11-year timespan provides new insights into the status-quo preserving or altering effects of digital technologies. We find a tendency toward equalization in terms of Facebook activity and user engagement, and in a comparative perspective: Facebook campaigns are, on average, more balanced than newspaper advertisement campaigns, particularly since 2014.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:02 +000
  • Referendum Campaigns in Hybrid Media Systems: Insights From the New
           Zealand Cannabis Legalisation Referendum

    • Authors: Marta Rychert; Chris Wilkins
      Abstract: During New Zealand’s 2020 cannabis legalisation referendum, advocacy groups on both sides widely debated the issue, utilising “older” and “newer” media channels to strategically influence voters, including through appearances in traditional media and paid advertising campaigns on Facebook. Comparatively little is known about the campaign strategies used by each camp and how they leveraged the hybrid media environment to advocate for their positions. We analyse the cannabis legalisation referendum campaigns using primary data from our digital ethnographic study on Facebook, a systematic quantitative content analysis of legacy media websites, and a review of published reports from other authors. We show how positive sentiment towards cannabis law reform in the traditional media was amplified via referendum campaigners’ activity on Facebook. While campaign expenses on both sides were similar, money was spent in different ways and via different mediums. The pro-legalisation campaign focused more on new digital media channels, while the anti-legalisation campaign diversified across a range of mediums, with greater attention paid to traditional political advertising strategies, such as leaflets and billboards. The New Zealand case study illustrates how greater engagement with the “newer” media logics may not necessarily secure a favourable outcome during a national referendum campaign. We discuss how the broader media and political environment may have influenced campaigners’ choices to engage (or not) with the different media channels.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:02 +000
  • Beyond Brexit' Public Participation in Decision-Making on Campaign
           Data During and After Referendum Campaigns

    • Authors: Julia Rone
      Abstract: While the Brexit referendum campaign has been extensively researched, media, regulatory bodies, and academics have often talked at cross-purposes. A strong focus on Cambridge Analytica’s role in the 2016 referendum, despite official investigations concluding the company had only limited involvement in the campaign, has distracted attention from more mundane but highly controversial data practices, including selling voters’ data to third parties or re-using campaign data without consent from data subjects. This empirical case study of data-driven referendum campaigning around Brexit raises two broader theoretical questions: First, moving beyond the current focus on transparency and accountability, can public participation in the ownership and management of campaign data address some of the problematic data practices outlined' Second, most academic literature on data-driven campaigning, in general, and referendum campaigns, in particular, has often overlooked the key question of what happens with campaigning data once campaigns are over. What legal safeguards or mechanisms of accountability and participation are there to guarantee consent when it comes to further re-use of people’s data gathered during campaigns' Ultimately, the article raises the question of who should have a say in how “people’s data” is used in referendum campaigns and afterwards and makes a case for democratising such decisions.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:02 +000
  • Referendum Campaigns in the Digital Age: Towards (More) Comparative
           Analyses in Hybrid Media Systems

    • Authors: Linards Udris; Mark Eisenegger
      Abstract: Referendum campaigns, which happen in many countries on the national or sub-national level, are highly important and special periods of political communication. Unlike elections, however, referendum campaigns are understudied phenomena. This thematic issue addresses patterns of referendum campaigns, which increasingly take place in digital and hybrid media environments, where political actors conduct campaigns through various channels, news media react to and shape debates on social media, and citizens receive a large share of political information from traditional and digital media. In this editorial, we provide a short overview of how research on referendum campaigns has evolved and how it has started to shift its attention away from news coverage and toward the role of campaign actors and the citizens who use (or engage with) search engines and social media platforms. The articles in this thematic issue reflect this shift but also show that news media remain important actors in referendum campaigns. Finally, we outline further research steps, which should include even more holistic analyses of the hybridity of referendum campaigns and hopefully more comparisons across cases.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:01 +000
  • Googling Referendum Campaigns: Analyzing Online Search Patterns Regarding
           Swiss Direct-Democratic Votes

    • Authors: Sina Blassnig; Eliza Mitova, Nico Pfiffner, Michael V. Reiss
      Abstract: In direct democracies, voters are faced with considerable information demands. Although search engines are an important gateway to political information, it is still unclear what role they play in citizens’ information behavior regarding referendum campaigns. Moreover, few studies have examined the search terms that citizens use when searching for political information and the potential “user-input biases” in this regard. Therefore, we investigate to what extent citizens search online for information about upcoming referendums and what differences emerge between proponents, opponents, and non-voters regarding the search terms they used and the results they visited, related to three national ballot proposals voted on in Switzerland on November 28, 2021. The study combines cross-sectional survey data with longitudinal digital trace data containing participants’ Google Search histories obtained through data donations. Our findings show that participants rarely used Google to search for information about upcoming referendums. Moreover, most ballot-related searches employed rather neutral search terms. Nevertheless, a qualitative analysis of the search terms points to differences between different voting groups, particularly for the most prominent proposal around a Covid-19 law. The study provides interesting insight into how citizens search for information online during national referendum campaigns.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:01 +000
  • Mobile News Consumption and Its Relation to Young Adults’ Knowledge
           About and Participation in Referendums

    • Authors: Daniel Vogler; Morley Weston, Quirin Ryffel, Adrian Rauchfleisch, Pascal Jürgens, Mark Eisenegger, Lisa Schwaiger, Urs Christen
      Abstract: The news media are among the most important sources of information about political events, such as referendums. For young adults, the smartphone has become the main device for accessing news. However, we know little about the factors influencing mobile news consumption and how this consumption is related to political knowledge and political participation. This study investigates the antecedents of young individuals’ smartphone news consumption and how it is correlated with their knowledge about and participation in two referendums in Switzerland. We record the mobile internet usage of 309 young adults and link their digital trace data to survey data. We show that trust in news media and the use of broadcast media are positively correlated with the duration of mobile news consumption. The use of social media leads to more news source diversity. However, we find that the duration of mobile news consumption and news source diversity are not correlated with political knowledge about or participation in the referendum. As interest in politics is also positively correlated with the diversity of news sources used by individual participants, our study supports the idea that attentive audiences use a broader range of news sources to inform themselves about referendums.
      PubDate: Tue, 31 Jan 2023 11:27:01 +000
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Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
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