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Challenges for an SNS-based public sphere in 2016

Challenges for an SNS-based public sphere in 2016 Political polarization and incivility manifested itself online throughout the 2016 US presidential election. The purpose of this paper is to understand how features of social media platforms (e.g. reacting, sharing) impacted the online public sphere during the 2016 election.Design/methodology/approachAfter conducting in-depth interviews with politically interested young people and applying deductive coding procedures to transcripts of the interviews, Dahlberg’s (2004) six normative conditions for the public sphere were used to empirically examine this interview data.FindingsWhile some participants described strategies for productive political discussion on Social Networking Sites (SNS) and a willingness to use them to discuss politics, many users’ experiences largely fall short of Dahlberg’s (2004) normative criteria for the public sphere.Research limitations/implicationsThe period in which these interviews were conducted in could have contributed to a more pessimistic view of political discussion in general.Practical implicationsScholars and the public should recognize that the affordances of SNS for political discussion are not distributed evenly between different platforms, both for the sake of empirical studies of SNS moving forward and the state of democratic deliberation.Originality/valueAlthough previous research has examined online and SNS-based political discussion as it relates to the public sphere, few attempts have been made understand how specific communicative practices or platform-specific features of SNS have contributed to or detracted from a healthy public sphere. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Online Information Review Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1468-4527
DOI
10.1108/oir-12-2017-0352
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Political polarization and incivility manifested itself online throughout the 2016 US presidential election. The purpose of this paper is to understand how features of social media platforms (e.g. reacting, sharing) impacted the online public sphere during the 2016 election.Design/methodology/approachAfter conducting in-depth interviews with politically interested young people and applying deductive coding procedures to transcripts of the interviews, Dahlberg’s (2004) six normative conditions for the public sphere were used to empirically examine this interview data.FindingsWhile some participants described strategies for productive political discussion on Social Networking Sites (SNS) and a willingness to use them to discuss politics, many users’ experiences largely fall short of Dahlberg’s (2004) normative criteria for the public sphere.Research limitations/implicationsThe period in which these interviews were conducted in could have contributed to a more pessimistic view of political discussion in general.Practical implicationsScholars and the public should recognize that the affordances of SNS for political discussion are not distributed evenly between different platforms, both for the sake of empirical studies of SNS moving forward and the state of democratic deliberation.Originality/valueAlthough previous research has examined online and SNS-based political discussion as it relates to the public sphere, few attempts have been made understand how specific communicative practices or platform-specific features of SNS have contributed to or detracted from a healthy public sphere.

Journal

Online Information ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 16, 2018

Keywords: Political communication; Social media; Public sphere; 2016 US presidential election; Qualitative research methods

References