Politikere på Facebook: En undersøgelse af nye sociotekniske former for politisk kommunikation

Eva Svavars Frandsen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This master’s thesis explores the emergence of new socio-technological constructions of the political that become evident through politicians’ use of social network utilities on the web. The research raises the question of how these new political formations can be observed as symptomatic of a more wide-ranging transformation of political communication. To investigate this issue I turn to Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) and Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey C. Bowker’s theory on Classifications. The thesis is based on an empirical investigation of Danish politicians’ opinions on, and use of, the network utility Facebook. Specifically, the analysis first explores the politicians’ explanations of how and why they use the network utility, secondly observes how they use the utility, and finally, presents a specification of when and how new political forms can be said to emerge. The politicians refer in their explanations to traditional classifications for politics and to a line of dichotomies e.g. serious vs. unserious, and the virtual vs. the real. These dichotomies and explanations construct a discursive purification that suggests that new political forms do not emerge. However, my observations regarding politicians’ specific use of Facebook suggest that the multiple user-generated technologies within the utility contribute to the construction of three new socio-technological emerging political forms. The first form emerges when the politicians accept a symmetrical position in the network that does not allow mandatory benefits entailed by their position as designated officials. The symmetry allows them to informally enrol in group formations representing political controversies that are not initiated by partisan politics, but by NGOs or citizens. The second form emerges when “virtual” connections become a way to create “real” connections, which may be more real than the abstract concept of a politician’s “backers”. In this view certain technologies become boundary objects that function as a barometer for citizen initiated issue politics, for the politician. The third form emerges, when the politician through technology-based games and entertainment reveals the “person” behind the politician and when these elements of personal information become a part of the political issues communicated. The thesis concludes that the politicians are extremely flexible in their approach to social network utilities on the web, and that the specific combination of technologies in the utilities therefore is highly likely to have great influence on the specific emergence in the socio-technological construction of political forms.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2008
Number of pages114