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Between fragmentation and dialogue: Twitter communities and political debate about the Swiss “Nuclear Withdrawal Initiative”


Arlt, Dorothee; Rauchfleisch, Adrian; Schäfer, Mike S (2019). Between fragmentation and dialogue: Twitter communities and political debate about the Swiss “Nuclear Withdrawal Initiative”. Environmental Communication, 13(4):440-456.

Abstract

As social media sites have become significant arenas for political debate in recent years, this paper investigates the political debate that took place on Twitter in the wake of the Swiss referendum on the Nuclear Withdrawal Initiative, which was conducted in November 2016. Using Twitter data of 3000 users, we could identify 7 distinct communities that varied in terms of their size, position, and contribution to the debate. The most dominant communities in the debate were the Conservative Mainstream and the Green-Left communities. Moreover, our findings show that communities supporting and opposing the initiative differ with regard to the wording they use in their tweets. Finally, our results reveal an active exchange both within and, even more importantly, between the communities, which indicates a rather pluralistic and internally connected debate. Thus, our findings clearly contrast with those of prior studies concerning political debates on social media that identified pronounced echo chambers.

Abstract

As social media sites have become significant arenas for political debate in recent years, this paper investigates the political debate that took place on Twitter in the wake of the Swiss referendum on the Nuclear Withdrawal Initiative, which was conducted in November 2016. Using Twitter data of 3000 users, we could identify 7 distinct communities that varied in terms of their size, position, and contribution to the debate. The most dominant communities in the debate were the Conservative Mainstream and the Green-Left communities. Moreover, our findings show that communities supporting and opposing the initiative differ with regard to the wording they use in their tweets. Finally, our results reveal an active exchange both within and, even more importantly, between the communities, which indicates a rather pluralistic and internally connected debate. Thus, our findings clearly contrast with those of prior studies concerning political debates on social media that identified pronounced echo chambers.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nuclear Energy, political debate, social media, Twitter, dialogue
Language:English
Date:19 May 2019
Deposited On:25 Jan 2019 14:33
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 19:47
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1752-4032
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2018.1430600

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