Keynote: Social Media and Political Engagement

Homero Gil de Zúniga, University of Vienna

CeDEM Asia 14 Homero

Abstract: This talk will analyze the impact of social media on democratic outcomes from two very different empirical perspectives. First, relying on a U.S. two-wave-panel-data, I’ll examine the role of social media as a sphere for political expression and its effects on political participation. Informational uses of social media explain social media political expression, which in turn promotes political participation. However, this first study also clarifies the effect of using social media for other purposes — social interaction — in fostering political expression and participation processes. Results indicate social media newsuse has direct effects on offline political participation, and indirect effects on offline and online political participation mediated via political expression. Furthermore, social media use for social-interaction doesn’t have a direct influence in people’s political engagement, but rather an indirect effect by means of citizens expressing themselves politically. Secondly, I’m also interested in shedding light on the political implications of second screening, a hybrid media process that combines watching news on television and a second, web-connected screen (i.e., smart phone, laptop, etc). Based on a different US national, twowave longitudinal panel data, I will discuss about the future of social (media) TV by examining the relationship between second screening and online political behaviors. Results suggest that second screening for news is a significant predictor of online political participation and a key link between TV news and political engagement as this relationship is fully mediated. The study advances both theoretically and empirically the ways in which an informed public opinion may partake of a more engaged democracy.

Notes: Media, news and films influence our notion of society, as people get specific perspectives about issues that are communicated. News media are more likely to show bad news, and people might generalise these impressions. Many studies focus on how the messages that we send affect other, however, how do these messages affect ourselves? When you use social media, you present yourself and create a certain picture of yourself for others and yourself. Political communication could then have an impact on offline and online political participation of people themselves.

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