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Session 4C [clear filter]
Wednesday, July 13
 

10:45

Session 4C: Politics I: Politicians & Civic Engagement
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 


Moderators
avatar for Ravi Vatrapu

Ravi Vatrapu

Director & Professor, Centre for Business Data Analytics, Copenhagen Business School

Wednesday July 13, 2016 10:45 - 12:15
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:46

Detecting Well-Established Trends about Political Affiliation and Affect in Facebook Microblogs
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 

Contributors:
  • Roxanne B. Raine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
  • Scott P. Robertson, University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States

Background: 

It is well-established that conservatives report higher life satisfaction than liberals (Napier & Jost, 2008; Alesina, Di Tella, & MacCulloch, 2004; Taylor, Funk, & Craighill, 2006), even when controlling for potential confounds such as household income, age, education, and numerous other factors. Although the finding that conservatives tend to seem happier than liberals is not new, our research contributes to the existing body of literature in two ways. First, the detection of this trend in microblogs is novel, as previous findings were based on surveys about life-satisfaction. And second, by analyzing the content of the microblogs, we gain insight into the reality behind this well-known trend. Further plans for research are also discussed. 


Objective: 

We investigate whether these life-satisfaction differences are detectable between Facebook status updates of liberal versus conservative Americans.


Methods: 

Our source of Facebook updates was www.myPersonality.org, which provides over 4,000,000 individuals’ Facebook profile information (Kosinski et al., 2015). The myPersonality project is affiliated with 250 researchers and over 32 publications (e.g., Youyou, Kosinski & Stillwell, 2015; Lamiotte & Kosinski, 2014).

The dataset of 16,906 users’ self-proclaimed political affiliations in the myPersonality database is comprised of 144 categories because Facebook does not have any constraints on what can be entered in this field. For some of the affiliations (e.g., “democrat”), a user’s status as liberal is clear. However, some are less objectively categorized, so we had 13 people interpret the affiliations. We narrowed the users into 3 types of voters: conservatives (3,622), liberals (5,333), and either (2,496). Probable non-voters were excluded. Rationale for this will be explained in the presentation.

Example affiliations in each category:

Liberal - Obama baby, Democrat, Liberal

Conservative - Conservative, Nobama, Republican

Either -  Depends, I don’t know, Middle of the road

Neither - Who cares?, Bullshit, Anarchy

We then compared groups using Linguistic Analyisis and Word Count (LIWC) emotionality data (Tausczik & Pennebaker, 2010). LIWC measures a corpus’ emotionality based on word frequency. For example, positive emotion words such as love, nice, and sweet increase a body of text’s positive emotion score, whereas hurt, ugly, and nasty increase negative emotion scores. We compared these two LIWC scores for our users in the three voting groups: liberal, conservative, and either.

Results: 

An ANOVA comparing positive and negative emotion words in status updates of conservatives, liberals, and swing voters showed significant differences for positive emotions F(2, 11,448) = 25.93, p < 0.001 and for negative emotions F(2, 11,448) = 25.93, p < 0.001. Fisher LSD post-hoc analyses showed that liberals and conservatives were significantly different in both ANOVAs. The “either” group did not have any significant differences.

Future Work: 

There are a number of possible explanations for why liberals are less happy than conservatives. Although these possibilities have been discussed in previous literature, no conclusions have yet been made. One possibility is that one tends to associate more with members of the same political party. Over time, the peer group’s affect could converge, causing this emotional heterogeneity between groups. Another alternative is that the worldview that leads one to become liberal or conservative is at the root of the language differences we have found. If that is the case, the content of the status updates could provide more insight, which will also be discussed in the presentation.  

Although numerous other studies have found that liberals tend to be less happy than conservatives, to our knowledge, this is the first study to show that the everyday Facebook language of liberals versus conservatives reflects the previously found affect differences between groups. We plan to continue this research with empirical studies to determine whether we can reverse the effect. If the effect is reversible, that would provide evidence that the peer groups are driving the language. We will also continue our text analysis by evaluating the content of the updates, which will lead to a deeper understanding of the types of positive and negative statements being made by each group. These findings could influence politics, commerce, and social media design.


References:
 

Alesina, A., Di Tella, R., & MacCulloch, R. (2004). Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different? Journal of Public Economics, 88(9-10), 2009–2042. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2003.07.006

Kosinski, M., Matz, S., Gosling, S., Popov, V. & Stillwell, D. (2015). Facebook as a social science research tool: Opportunities, challenges, ethical considerations and practical guidelines. American Psychologist, 70(6), 543-556.

Lambiotte, R. & Kosinski, M. (2014). Tracking the digital footprints of personality. Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 102(12), 1934-1939.

Napier, J. L., & Jost, J. T. (2008). Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals? Psychological Science, 19(6), 565–572. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02124.x

Tausczik & Pennebaker, J.W. (2010). The psychological meaning of words: LIWC and computerized text analysis methods. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 29(1), 24-54.

Taylor, P., Funk, C., & Craighill, P. (2006). Are we happy yet? Pew Research Center social trends report. (M. A. Motes, Ed.) PloS one (8). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0083143

Youyou, W., Kosinski, M., & Stillwell, D. (2015). Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences (PNAS), 112(4), 1036-1040. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1036.full


Wednesday July 13, 2016 10:46 - 12:15
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:46

Everyday Nationhood on the Web: An Analysis of Discourses Surrounding Romanian and Bulgarian Migration to the UK Using Twitter Data
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 

Contributors:
  • Bindi Shah, University of Southampton, United Kingdom 
  • Justin Murphy, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • Jessica Ogden, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Background: 

On 1st January 2014 restrictions were lifted on the migration of Romanians and Bulgarians to the UK. Leading up to this date and since then, heated debate has ensued about the impact of this migration. Discourses and images of the country being swamped by this new ‘other’ have proliferated.

Objective: 

Our aim is to investigate how these debates were discursively constructed over the micro-blogging platform Twitter over a five month period October 1, 2013 and March 1, 2014. We draw on understandings of how the nation and national identity is reproduced in established nation-states of the ‘West. Billig (1995) sought to draw our attention to the familiar, habitual, unconscious ways in which the nation is flagged in countries like Britain, which he terms ‘banal nationalism’. But in recent years Billig has been criticized for maintaining a separation between ‘banal’ and ‘hot’ nationalism. Skey (2009) and Jones and Merriman (2009) argue that we cannot assume that nationalism is banal for everyone who lives in Britain at the current time, given the complexity of group identities. Skey, and Jones and Merriman advocate for a notion of everyday nationalism, which incorporates banal and mundane processes but may also include a variety of hotter “differences and conflicts” that affect people’s lives on a habitual basis. The notion of everyday nationalism brings into focus the ways in which people make sense of and/or resist nationalisms emanating from the state. For our research, the notion of everyday nationalism suggests two research questions:

- How do individuals, rather than politicians or the media, shape ideas of who can belong to the nation?

- Do micro-blogging platforms enable heightened nationalism and anti-immigrant discourses or do they also provide a platform for challenging such discourses?

Methods: 

We purchased all status updates on the social media platform Twitter created between October 1, 2013 and March 1, 2014 containing the words "immigration," "immigrant," "migration", or "migrant," and Bulgaria/Bulgarian, Romania/Romanian, England, UK, or Britain. This five-month period allowed us to examine how the conversation around immigration was shaped by the defining event of the lifting of restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migration on 1st January 2014.The sample contains 136,960 tweets.

The first stage of analysis involved quantitative network analysis to explore differences among users with a high degree of network centrality for the months of October and December. Specifically, we analysed all tweets that were in the 90th percentile of influence, which we define here as the 90th percentile of the total number of retweets received per tweet. For a tweet to be in the 90th percentile it needed to receive at least 3 retweets in October and 3.4 retweets in December.

The second stage of this research involved qualitative discourse analysis of a five percent random sample of tweets for the month of October and December. This stage was focused on investigating the migration/immigration discourses embedded in tweets from ‘lone users’ or users that exhibited a low degree of network centrality, and whether, and how, these discourses shifted over time.

Results: 

As expected, quantitative analysis reveals that the most influential accounts in each month are typically mainstream media outlets and other leading social media sites. Additionally, the connectedness of these most influential accounts appears to increase over time. Distinct from much research based around "hashtags," however, our focus on related but different key terms produces a sample with a relatively large portion of isolates and very small conversations. Thus, one descriptive finding is that during this period of heightened immigration salience, the ‘conversation’ on Twitter was generally decentralised and not overwhelmingly dominated by any particular actors. In other words, the quantitative analysis suggests that in this instance, Twitter as a micro-blogging platform is not primarily an ‘echo chamber’ and not a highly hierarchical network replicating distributions of media power offline.

The qualitative discourse analysis highlighted the multiplicity of nationalist discourses on immigration that individuals in Britain engaged in towards the end of 2013. The majority of ‘lone users’ were simply tweeting mainstream media headlines or redistributing tweets by the influential Twitter users, without additional commentary. Where it was possible to identify discourses related to immigration from the tweet itself and/or from the user descriptions, a greater proportion of tweets represented an anti-immigration discourse than a pro-immigration discourse. The anti-immigration discourses in both the month of October and December were largely similar, but analysis revealed two key differences: a) In October the focus was on illegal immigrants and immigrant in general, while in December the focus shifted specifically to Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants; b) and there was a palpable moral panic in December about what the lifting of restrictions on January 1st 2014 would mean for immigration to the UK. 

Our findings suggest that both those who are anti-immigration and those who are pro-immigration are engaged in the discursive construction of the nation on the micro-blogging platform Twitter. However, the anti-immigrant narratives are much more cohesive, indicating that one organisation sets the tone for anti immigrant discourses. While Twitter provides a platform for challenging this exclusive nationalism, the pro-immigration narratives are too diverse and complex to construct a cohesive discourse that promotes an inclusive idea of the British state and Britishness that can challenge the exclusive nationalism of those promoting an anti-immigration stance. 

Future Work: 

Future work will involve further quantitative and qualitative analysis to explore change in the structure of the retweet network, and the discourses surrounding migration/immigration over time. Drawing on the terms identified in the qualitative results, additional work will focus on the use of advanced textual analysis methods (such as frequency, ‘co-occurrence’ and ‘co-location’ of terms) for recognising patterns in the use of specific terms in either pro- or anti-immigration tweets. It is our aim that a combination of both automated and manual identification of important terms will further assist in identifying discourses, but also key actors in the propagation of information in tweets surrounding this topic.

 

References:
 

Billig, M. (1995) Banal Nationalism. London: SAGE

Skey (2009) ‘The national in everyday life: A critical engagement with Michael Billig’s thesis of Banal Nationalism’. The Sociological Review 57 (2): 331-346.

Jones, R. and P. Merriman (2009) ‘Hot, banal and everyday nationalism: Bilingual road signs in Wales’. Political Geography 28:164-173



Wednesday July 13, 2016 10:46 - 12:15
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:46

Social media as a source of information: an exploratory study of young Libyans’ perceptions of the impact of social media in Libya during the period 2011-2015
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 

Contributors:
  • Sukaina Ehdeed, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom 
  • Jo Bates, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom 
  • Andrew Cox, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom 

As one of the Arab Spring countries, Libya has lived through fast-moving events in which Facebook and other social networking sites have played a major role in delivering news, and shaping peoples’ attitudes towards past and current events and revolutionary change. The proposed research seeks to answer questions about young Libyans’ perception of the impact of social media in Libya in relation to the revolution and post-revolutionary period (2011-2015).

Background:

Social media sites such as Facebook played a key role during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ between December 2010 and March 2011 (Yli-Kaitala, 2014; Khondker, 2011; Hussain & Howard, 2013). While much of the research so far has focused upon Egypt and Tunisia, relatively little is known about the extent to which sites such as Facebook played a role in delivering news and shaping attitudes towards the ‘uprising’ in Libya during this period. This study will explore the perspectives of young Libyans aged between 24 and 35 in relation to the revolution and post-revolutionary period (2011-2016). It does so by presenting an overview of the role of social media in Libyan uprising based on a critical thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with young Libyans exploring how social media was used to promote dissent and spread information in the country; and a content analysis of a sample of public Facebook pages focusing on the anniversaries of the uprising from 2012 to 2016 to look for changing content at systematic periods. 

Objective:

The overall aim of the research is to explore how young Libyans perceive the impact of social media for spreading information and news during the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period 2011-2015 

Methods: 

Data will be collected through semi-structured interviews based on a snowball sample of young people inside Libya (in Tripoli, Benghazi and Sebha city), and within the Libyan diaspora in the UK, followed by content analysis of a sample of public Facebook pages. 

Results:

A pilot study encompassing semi-structured interviews with 5 young people from Tripoli and the Libyan diaspora in the UK, and content analysis of the “Libyan intelligence” Facebook page of the first anniversary of Libyan uprising in 2012 will be undertaken in order to explore the general attitudes, test the research design, and modify the research instruments. The findings from the pilot study will be presented. 
 
Future Work:

Firstly, further reading will also be undertaken to keep developing the theoretical framework in this ongoing PhD research. Secondly, fieldwork will be undertaken and empirical data will be collected to answer the research questions. The data is then prepared for the next phase in which it is analysed and evaluated to extract findings and start the write up of the thesis. 

References:

Hussain, M. M., & Howard, P. N. (2013). What best explains successful protest cascades? ICTs and the fuzzy causes of the Arab Spring. International Studies Review, 15, 48–66. doi:10.1111/misr.12020

Khondker, H. H. (2011). Role of the New Media in the Arab Spring. Globalizations, 8(5), 675– 679. doi:10.1080/14747731.2011.621287

Yli-Kaitala, K. (2014). Revolution 2.0 in Egypt: Pushing for Change, Foreign Influences on a Popular Revolt. Journal of Political Marketing, 13, 127–151. doi:10.1080/15377857.2014.866412 

 

Wednesday July 13, 2016 10:46 - 12:15
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:46

Twitter Adoption in U.S. Legislatures: A Fifty-State Study
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 

Contributor: James Cook, University of Maine at Augusta, United States


This study draws theoretical inspiration from the literature on Twitter adoption and Twitter activity in United States legislatures, applying predictions from those limited studies to all 7,378 politicians serving across 50 American state legislatures in the fall of 2015. Tests of bivariate association carried out for individual states lead to widely varying results, indicating an underlying diversity of legislative environments. However, a pooled multivariate analysis for all 50 states indicates that the number of constituents per legislator, district youth, district level of educational attainment, legislative professionalism, being a woman, sitting in the upper chamber, holding a leadership position, and legislative inexperience are all significantly and positively associated with Twitter adoption and Twitter activity. Controlling for these factors, neither legislator party, nor majority status, nor partisan instability, nor district income, nor the percent of households in a state with an Internet connection is significantly related to either Twitter adoption or recent Twitter use. A significant share of variation in social media adoption by legislators remains unexplained, leaving considerable room for further theoretical development and the development of contingent historical accounts. 

Wednesday July 13, 2016 10:46 - 12:15
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 314 Goldsmiths University, Building 2