Media and the Presidentialization of Parliamentary Elections

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Their model of authenticity is based on four underlying dimensions of authenticity: authority, identity, transparency, and engagement, and will serve as a theoretical basis for the current research. While their dimensions of authenticity provide a more specific definition than proposed by Louden and McCauliff , it can be further refined to fit electoral politics in social media campaigns.

Furthermore, this research built on work by Henderson and Bowley who said authenticity plays an important role in recruiting constituents on social media. The current research seeks to formulate a theoretical understanding of the concept of authenticity in electoral social media campaigns.

Gilpin, et al. Instead of resting within a medium or media source, authority is established through a combination of normal practices such as meeting audience expectations and persuasiveness Robinson, Parry—Giles observed that constituents seek authoritative, authentic candidates, and showed citizen blogs may address the lack of authority and authenticity of politicians. Building identity is an ongoing and socially constructed narrative Ricoeur, ; Somers, ; Elliott, and relies upon several factors including language, writing style, graphics and other interactions Dahlberg, This close relationship between voice and identity shows that there may be a relationship between identity and authority, which are two main concepts of authenticity.

Transparency can be seen as essential to an electoral campaign as it gives constituents the opportunity to know what happens within an organization Strathern, Transparency can refer to verifying online claims Slater, , in Gilpin, et al.

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Media trends such as reality television and Web 2. The importance of transparency is supported by Molleda who wrote that organizations are increasingly pressured by stakeholders who demand greater transparency, openness and responsibility from organizations [ 14 ], and that all of these are factors of authenticity. Social media offer forms of interpersonal communication like user communities, friendship maintenance, social interaction and the development of personal identities and relationships online Hanson, et al.

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Therefore, they provide constituents and candidates the possibility to communicate and spread political information. Aspects of transparency, including interactivity and dialogue, have been studied for their influence on political engagement. Interactive Web 2. Though many are not that active on social media, including youth organizations Ward, , non—profit organizations that tweeted more, had more likes and more followers were perceived as more transparent and credible by their stakeholders.

On the other hand, those who updated less frequently were perceived to be less transparent, showing a relationship between activity frequency and perceived transparency and credibility Sisco and McCorkindale, n. To estimate the individual characteristics and factors, a set of observable blog parameters had to be defined. Herring, et al. Scheidt and Wright focused on visual design elements, such as sidebar elements used in private blogs.

Lee, et al. Fleck, et al. In order to assess the formality and indicate the degree of authenticity of blog posts, Puschmann a, b has identified grammar statistics of blog posts as a meaningful characteristic. Campaigns that have higher levels of constituent and campaign engagement may be perceived to be more authentic. Research is plentiful on the role that social media play in facilitating political engagement.

This shows how engagement and transparency work together to as demonstrators of authenticity. Thus, an authentic candidate can be expected to transparently engage with their constituents online. The content of political social media campaigns may influence user engagement, and campaigns that users perceive as authentic may be more successful in constituent engagement. Online engagement requires the willingness of citizens to participate Ward, ; , thus electoral social media campaigns must effectively communicate with their constituents online to encourage participation.

The aim of this research is to explore the role of authenticity in electoral social media campaigns and how authenticity is demonstrated via electoral social media campaigns. This is accomplished via qualitative content analysis of data that is drawn from 10 semi—structured interviews with U. Democrats, ranging from 41 to 57 minutes in length. The main research question is:. Qualitative interviewing is the chosen method. Interviews took place with U.

Campbell, et al. Due to the inherent partisan bias that may exist against the opposing party, only Democrats were interviewed, and were asked questions about screenshots from the pages of Democratic candidates. Interviewees ranged in age from 23 to 55, with six female and four male respondents from a mix of states, including California, Michigan, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Texas. Facebook was the only social media platform used for this research due to its popularity among both electoral candidates and voters, and because it encompasses all of the features of social media Kushin and Yamamoto, ; Beer, ; Henderson and Bowley, According to Smith , 50 percent of users younger than 30 used Facebook for electoral information gathering or expression in the election, showing the popularity of Facebook as a tool for electoral participation.

Furthermore, Williams and Gulati found that major party candidates from both the U. House of Representatives and the U. Senate embraced Facebook during the election. Four Democratic candidates were chosen for this research: two Congressional and two Senatorial candidates, all from different states. The first candidate chosen for this research was Ami Bera, running for Congress in the Seventh District of California. The second candidate was Tom Carper, running as an incumbent candidate for Senator in Delaware.

The third candidate was Joe Donnelly, running for Senate in Indiana. These candidates were chosen randomly and were selected because they were the first that met the criteria for candidate Facebook page selection. Xenos and Foot used a similar method in which they gave laptops to focus groups and showed participants campaign and non—partisan Web sites.

Roessing and Siebert gave participants hardcopy screenshots of online discussion forums, and were asked to describe how seriously they took the depicted material. Screenshots were chosen to reflect dimensions of authenticity. Finally, questions about engagement were accompanied by a screenshot of a photo of a house party posted by a candidate on his page, a photo of two women supporting a candidate at an off—line event, and a Facebook event page dedicated to a fundraising event for a candidate.

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Each interview was digitally recorded and manually transcribed. To structure the results, emergent patterns were organized based on their relation to Gilpin, et al. Analysis of the interviews showed seven patterns of authenticity. The seven emergent patterns are tech savvy—ness, credentials, insincerity, ability to relate to constituents, open communication, social media participation, off—line participation, and skepticism.

All of these patterns, with the exception of skepticism, emerged in relation to the four original dimensions of authenticity. In this section, these patterns are discussed in relation to the initial four dimensions to show how they arose and how they fit, or divert from, the original theory.

Responses from interviewees showed that the dimensions of authenticity are interrelated, as several topics overlapped. An overview of the relationship between the dimensions of authenticity and the emergent patterns is visualized in Figure 1. The first dimension of interest related to the authority of electoral candidates.

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In other words, these experiences demonstrated expertise. Additionally, results showed that constituents thought electoral candidates with political or military experience have more authority than those without political or military experience. As credentials define authority as one of Gilpin, et al. Unexpectedly, respondents found the tech savvy—ness of electoral candidates to be an indicator of authority, as tech savvy—ness showed that the candidate had expertise in current technological and social media trends.

A lack of biographical information on Facebook showed the candidate did not understand how to use the platform. This finding supports research that showed citizens expect candidates to be at least as active online as the citizens themselves, and that citizens expect candidates to be at least as tech—savvy as themselves Wagner and Gainous, ; Chadwick, ; Foot and Schneider, These relationships demonstrate how the emergent patterns supported other dimensions of authenticity. For example, a candidate with a higher level of tech savvy—ness was perceived as having more authority, but also as being more willing to engage with their constituents, connecting authority and engagement.

The emergent pattern of credentials fit Gilpin, et al. Although Gilpin, et al.

Media and the Presidentialization of Parliamentary Elections

Further, the candidate was perceived by voters to be more competent in communicating with his constituents. The second dimension was identity. Therefore, it may be the case that a reliable social media identity demonstrates authenticity to constituents. On the other hand, respondents viewed one candidate as insincere when he discussed his recent volunteer opportunities by promoting the community service he had performed.

While respondents pointed to insincerity, there were no conclusions about what voters perceived to be sincere. For an electoral candidate to demonstrate his or her authentic identity to constituents, it is important to share personal information about him or herself on Facebook. It also showed a relatable side that constituents could connect to and sympathize with. Posting formal pictures on Facebook and using Facebook to exclusively share campaign information, however, demonstrated insincerity.

We found the perception of candidate insincerity to be related to skepticism. The perceived insincerity of political candidates on Facebook may result in part from the skepticism that citizens hold against politicians and political candidates in general, and may not stem solely from the content that is provided on Facebook.

However, based on these results, authentic identities might be better defined along a continuum of sincere to insincere. However, they did not include how relatable an identity is perceived to be in their definition. Benoit and McHale studied the importance of sincerity. They discovered that voters perceive sincerity to be the most important quality in candidates, but found that candidates do not frequently address it in campaign messages. This may help to explain why voters were only able to identify insincerity. Results revealed that open communication between the electoral candidate and constituents demonstrated transparency.

He did well responding to the criticism. Unexpectedly, off—line participation also demonstrated open communication, as candidates who were pictured with their constituents off—line were perceived to be more willing to talk to their constituents and listen to them. One example of this was a photo of an electoral candidate at a house party. Respondents saw this as open communication because he was addressing constituents in an informal environment.

Facebook posts that exhibited transparency were used to show engagement, an example of how the features of social media can be used to demonstrate more than one dimension of authenticity at a time. Transparency was determined by off—line communication between the electoral candidate and his or her constituents.

Therefore, the dimensions of transparency and engagement were interrelated. Open communication was closely related to Gilpin, et al. All respondents said that responding to other Facebook users showed the candidates were open to communication and to addressing criticism. These findings contradicted Sisco and McCorkindale n. However it did support Gilpin, et al. The fourth area of interest focused on engagement in electoral social media campaigns.

Findings revealed that social media and off—line participation of both constituents and the electoral candidate demonstrated engagement in an electoral social media campaign. Electoral candidates showed off—line participation by posting photos or videos of themselves at off—line campaign events. This relationship showed how thoroughly authenticity could be expressed via social media. These results suggest that constituents perceive the social media and off—line participation of other constituents to signal there is something of interest happening in the campaign, and may encourage other voters to become involved.

Overall, respondents perceived off—line constituent participation in an electoral campaign to be more telling of their engagement than social media participation, as several noted that it required much more effort to participate off—line than online. While constituent activity on social media has become an integral part of political campaigns, it has not replaced off—line participation.

In other words, off—line participation is a better indicator of overall interest in an electoral candidate. Therefore, Facebook can be an important platform for electoral campaigns for online participation, and for showing hard evidence via photos or videos of constituents and electoral candidates participating off—line. Social media thus provides two possible means of engagement in the campaign.

These results support Gilpin, et al. The pattern of off—line participation also supported this argument since the off—line participation of candidates was perceived to signify a greater ability to relate to constituents identity , and a greater willingness to communicate with constituents transparency. Electoral candidates are presumed to be potentially manipulative, untrustworthy, and selfish.

These respondents regarded some candidate communication on their Facebook campaign pages as a tool to lure in voters. Along with this, several also mentioned that electoral candidates were purposely trying to show their potential constituents that they were family men.

Interestingly, several respondents said they felt it was their job as citizens to be skeptical of politicians, which might imply that skepticism is a result of civic duty rather than a result of political scandal. Furthermore, Geissel suggested that the idea that political criticism is a civic duty has been scientifically neglected and that it might be crucial for the development of democracy. Electoral candidates can influence how citizens perceive them via the content that they post to their Facebook pages.

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The emergent patterns support and reinforce the original dimensions of authenticity theorized by Gilpin, et al. Dimensions of authenticity may influence each other and are therefore not mutually exclusive, but support each other in demonstrating the overall authenticity of a candidate. The relationship between patterns is complex: posts to Facebook campaign pages can reveal more than one dimension of authenticity at a time.

Six out of seven emergent patterns relate to the original four dimensions of authenticity defined by Gilpin, et al. The perceived authenticity of an electoral candidate plays a role in electoral social media campaigns as it assists voters in shaping their opinion of the candidate and in helping them to decide whether or not to support a candidate.

Most respondents were skeptical toward political candidates.

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Voter skepticism emerged as a deviant pattern and departs from the four original dimensions of authenticity. Almost every interviewee brought up his or her skepticism of electoral candidates without being prompted to do so. Previous research on political identity showed that citizens looked for genuine and authentic politicians in response to political scandal Parry—Giles, Given this, it is not surprising that respondents overwhelmingly discussed their political skepticism.

Political skepticism is worth further investigation, particularly in relation to authenticity. This could provide insight into the role that the perceived authenticity of electoral candidates plays in determining voter skepticism. The pattern of skepticism suggests new topics for consideration: Does voter skepticism interfere with perceptions of candidate authenticity? Additionally, interview results show that the dimensions of authenticity proposed by Gilpin, et al.

However, as the emergent patterns show, they are not specific enough. This research is socially relevant, with authenticity being a popular buzzword in reference to electoral campaigns Silverman, ; Fournier, ; Reynolds, ; Rosenbloom, Social media, namely Facebook, have become an important part of electoral campaigns, as nearly every electoral candidate now uses social media sites as campaigning tools.

Generally speaking, electoral candidates can follow the following suggestions to demonstrate their authenticity.

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This research is especially relevant for upcoming elections as social media continues to grow in prominence in campaigns. Political parties--Great Britain. Great Britain--Politics and government More Details author. Mughan, Anthony.

  • Media And The Presidentialization Of Parliamentary Elections Howell Harris Mughan Anthony Professor.
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  • Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK. A Look Inside About the Author. Author Affiliation. To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities. Bowker Data Service Summary. This text on Britain shows that the dynamics of parliamentary elections have become more prominent on both media coverage of the campaign and in the party that voters choose at the polls. In theory, parliamentary elections are a contest between political parties whose leaders do not have a separate identity from their party in the public eye.

    This case study of Britain shows that this theory no longer holds; the dynamics of parliamentary elections have become more 'presidential' in the sense that the leaders of the major parties now figure more prominently on both media coverage of the campaign and in the party that voters choose at the polls. The implications for our understanding of parliamentary democracy are discussed. List of Tables p. All Rights Reserved. This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers.

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