Politicians communication and interaction on Facebook

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Katrine Jacobsen
  • Mia Jørgensen
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
Our modern society is built on a large marketplace giving politicians endless rows of opportunities to market themselves. On Facebook politicians have to stand out from their rival candidates and express their ideologies in a rhetorical properly. Due to the technology developments there has been generated a battle for attention, and therefore politicians must acquire knowledge about how they act rhetorically correct and appropriate exhaust.
The need for branding and marketing communication has expanded, and the stream of information between people has never been faster or more uncontrollable than it is today. The power that social media creates is called ‘groundswell’, and politicians must respect this new term.
How can the politicians ensure that their messages are received and perceived as intended, and what are the consequences if they do not respond to criticism – or respond at all?

This master thesis centers its focus in politician’s communication and interaction on Facebook. Through this master thesis we are trying to answer how politicians act on Facebook and how Facebook users perceive this.

Our thesis is based on Ron Scollon and Suzie Scollon’s Nexus analysis that we have used as empirical method in our field research. The Nexus analysis has helped us as a guideline in our field research where we have interviewed five politicians from The Danish Parliament. Nexus analysis is based on three phases: engaging the nexus of practice, navigating the nexus of practice, and changing the nexus of practice.
Our primary empirical is based on a text collection of the politician’s status updates on Facebook where we get an inside in their communication and interaction on Facebook. Besides that we have made a survey for the users on Facebook to get their point of view on politician’s communication and interaction on Facebook. That is why our field research is based on both qualitative as well as quantitative data.

Nexus analysis is our empirical method but we have combined this with Norman Fairclough’s Critical discourse analysis (CDA). The CDA is seen as our analytical method where we use his text-oriented analysis to structure this thesis’ analysis. With the CDA our analysis is divided in three parts: text analysis, analysis of the discursive practice and an analysis of the social practice.
In our text analysis we use different theories about rhetoric, appeal forms, and Facebook status update categories. In the analysis of the discursive practice we use Erving Goffman’s theory about frontstage and backstage and his theory about facework. At last in the analysis of the social practice we combine our earlier analysis with theory about politic communication and medialization.

On the basis of our study we can conclude that the politicians must adjust their status updates to the Facebook and thoroughly consider what they will express, why, and to whom. Our quantitative data collection shows us that the politicians do not exploit Facebook’s opportunities such as two-way communication. We can also conclude that they shall set an agenda on Facebook to support their credibility.

Our data among with our chosen theories, and our results from the analysis are used to create a communication product for politicians to help them interact, and communicate in a better and more appropriate way in the future.
Publication date31 May 2013
ID: 76864631