Normalizing the innovation. A longitudinal study of parties and candidates websites in Catalonia during the 2010 and 2012 elections.

TitleNormalizing the innovation. A longitudinal study of parties and candidates websites in Catalonia during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Di Bonito, I.
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Communication Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona
Section or WGPolitical Communication Research Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodePOLT1a
Slot Code (Keyword)POLT1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
RoomHG22
Session TitleComparing political communication research across time and space
Submission ID6995
Abstract

In a third age or post-modern era of electoral campaigns, researchers assumed two main points of view about the Internet role: reflecting the dualism between technological and sociological determinism, they can be grouped into innovation or normalization supporters. The first ones assume that the net breaks the control of political elites over communication channels, helps smaller parties in strengthening their presence and fosters citizens’ participation. The others suggest that the use of the Internet reflects existing power relationships and reinforces “politics as usual”.  This work analyses the web pages of parties and candidates during the electoral campaign for the Catalan Parliament of November 2010 and November 2012, checking if an innovation or normalization process has been produced.The research aims at explaining both to which extent websites were used within the global electoral strategy and if their content replicates the off line politics trends.Regarding the functional analysis of websites, the objective is to explain how political actors translate in an online environment their purposes. To achieve this goal, the analysis is built upon four main categories, already used by Lilleker and other researchers for a comparative study on European Parliament Elections of 2009: - Information: parties are in constant need of make their point of view been heard; - Participation: often melted with interactivity, in this work is conceived as the level of “stickiness” and engagement with a product provided by new technologies; - Mobilization: since ever this is a key function of a campaign, also websites have their tools to carry on a get out the vote strategy; - Interactivity: probably the most innovative area of analysis, its purpose is building a long-term relationship through the use of tools for fostering the discussion. The total amount of indicators is 41, representing both 1.0 and 2.0 features. Regarding the analysis of contents displayed in websites during the campaign, the objective is to discover to which degree on line campaign reproduces trends of modern politics. The three analytical dimensions are gathered from the work of Swanson and Mancini and are: - Metacommunication: or absence of policy discussion; - Personalization; - Negative campaigning.  Every analytical dimension is measured on the basis of an average score. The innovation hypothesis is supported when the final sum of content elements decrease. For the structural elements, on the contrary, a high amount of them will reinforce the innovation hypothesis, especially in the case of items from 2.0 subcategories.First results about the 2010 elections show quite a normalization effect. The electoral campaign made an intensive use of Internet resources but citizens’ interaction and participation played a secondary role in their strategies.

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