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How do populist supporters engage online?

How do populist supporters engage online?
How do populist supporters engage online?
Populism has recently gained momentum across the globe, with populist parties having a significant or greater presence in political systems than ever before. Although the connection between the Internet and populism was identified quite early, researchers have only recently started to be interested in populism and its relationship to the Internet. Nonetheless, substantial attention is paid to the supply-side of populism (politicians or political parties). While the Internet provided new means for populist actors to communicate with the electorate, people who support populist leaders, politicians or parties also take advantages of Internet tools. The Internet gives populist supporters the ability to connect with like-minded people and express themselves openly. To investigate the demand-side of populism from the perspective of populist online discussion, I first re-think a typology of political participation offered by Ekman & Amnå (2012). I make a distinction between social involvement (being attentive to politics), political participation (actions aimed at influencing the political outcomes) and civic engagement (working towards community) and argue that these three categories are not exclusive and provide different lenses through which to view political activity online. In order to explore populist supporters’ political engagement online, the perspective of social involvement is used. Social involvement in this thesis is analysed by looking at the online expression of populist supporters and their mode of democratic communication. I analyse the online activity of populist supporters of the Polish civic movement Kukiz’15 between 2017 and 2018. The proliferation of different online services and features, used for many purposes, makes it impractical to study one platform in-depth, therefore, one element of Facebook was selected – Facebook Pages. Facebook Pages are a popular feature and widely used by populist supporters in many countries. The social involvement of supporters of Kukiz’15 was examined at micro- and macro-level. The micro-level of analysis investigated the modes of communication used in comment sections based on Freelon’s (2010) conceptualisation of democratic norms of communication. The results presented differences between two analysed Facebook Pages in support of Kukiz’15. The Facebook Page entitled Kukiz’15 tended to attract more people who engaged in insulting comments, while Informator Kukiz’15 presented a more informal style of communication between its supporters. It was also discovered that the context in which comments are made is very important, as forms of communication are not restricted to only one model of democratic communication. The macro-level study looked at all Pages created in support of Kukiz’15, and it was discovered that Facebook Pages supporting the same party are not homogenous. Additionally, it was learnt that the two previously analysed Pages presented unique examples when compared to other Pages.
University of Southampton
Lisinska, Justyna, Karolina
556ad07a-84ea-4329-a7b3-57db32fec8e0
Lisinska, Justyna, Karolina
556ad07a-84ea-4329-a7b3-57db32fec8e0
Jennings, William
2ab3f11c-eb7f-44c6-9ef2-3180c1a954f7

Lisinska, Justyna, Karolina (2021) How do populist supporters engage online? University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 217pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Populism has recently gained momentum across the globe, with populist parties having a significant or greater presence in political systems than ever before. Although the connection between the Internet and populism was identified quite early, researchers have only recently started to be interested in populism and its relationship to the Internet. Nonetheless, substantial attention is paid to the supply-side of populism (politicians or political parties). While the Internet provided new means for populist actors to communicate with the electorate, people who support populist leaders, politicians or parties also take advantages of Internet tools. The Internet gives populist supporters the ability to connect with like-minded people and express themselves openly. To investigate the demand-side of populism from the perspective of populist online discussion, I first re-think a typology of political participation offered by Ekman & Amnå (2012). I make a distinction between social involvement (being attentive to politics), political participation (actions aimed at influencing the political outcomes) and civic engagement (working towards community) and argue that these three categories are not exclusive and provide different lenses through which to view political activity online. In order to explore populist supporters’ political engagement online, the perspective of social involvement is used. Social involvement in this thesis is analysed by looking at the online expression of populist supporters and their mode of democratic communication. I analyse the online activity of populist supporters of the Polish civic movement Kukiz’15 between 2017 and 2018. The proliferation of different online services and features, used for many purposes, makes it impractical to study one platform in-depth, therefore, one element of Facebook was selected – Facebook Pages. Facebook Pages are a popular feature and widely used by populist supporters in many countries. The social involvement of supporters of Kukiz’15 was examined at micro- and macro-level. The micro-level of analysis investigated the modes of communication used in comment sections based on Freelon’s (2010) conceptualisation of democratic norms of communication. The results presented differences between two analysed Facebook Pages in support of Kukiz’15. The Facebook Page entitled Kukiz’15 tended to attract more people who engaged in insulting comments, while Informator Kukiz’15 presented a more informal style of communication between its supporters. It was also discovered that the context in which comments are made is very important, as forms of communication are not restricted to only one model of democratic communication. The macro-level study looked at all Pages created in support of Kukiz’15, and it was discovered that Facebook Pages supporting the same party are not homogenous. Additionally, it was learnt that the two previously analysed Pages presented unique examples when compared to other Pages.

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Thesis Justyna Lisinska- FINAL - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only until 31 October 2023.
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
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Justyna_Permissiontodeposit_RW - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.

More information

Published date: 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 452415
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/452415
PURE UUID: 59105f28-75ea-4c47-ae0e-d1986df666db
ORCID for William Jennings: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9007-8896

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 09 Dec 2021 18:14
Last modified: 03 Mar 2022 02:43

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Contributors

Author: Justyna, Karolina Lisinska
Thesis advisor: William Jennings ORCID iD

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