Talking to Themselves: Classification of Facebook's Political Usages and Representatives' Roles Among Israeli Members of Knesset
in Alex Frame & Gilles Brachotte (eds.) Forms and Functions of Political Participation in a Digital World (New York: Routledge, 2016), 13-24
20 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2016
Date Written: January 2, 2016
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are currently the main online platforms parliamentarians use to communicate and connect with their constituents, alongside traditional media and Party events. The mainstream view on politicians’ usage of the internet and mainly of social media is that the widespread use of the internet for networking has the potential of fostering democracy and enhancing the connections between representatives and constituents; but as politicians are not using it to its full potential they fail to induce engagement, but instead replicate their offline communication practices into the virtual sphere (e.g. Stromer-Galley 2000; Ward and Lusoli 2005; Jackson and Lilleker 2009b; Jackson and Lilleker 2011; Vergeer, Hermans and Sams 2013; Strandberg 2013; Stromer-Galley 2014).
This chapter is based on a study of the use of online platforms by Members of Knesset (Israeli parliament, henceforth MKs) for political communication purposes. The empirical research lasted two years (July 2009-July 2011) using a combination of in-depth interviews, partly structured questionnaires and web content analysis. Inter alia I studied MKs activity on Facebook in order to identify activity formats and to characterize prevalent usages. Based on the assumption that representatives’ parliamentary roles as well as their political communication forms are changing due to social media, establishing a typology of political usages of Facebook will enable us to identify the way MKs currently occupy their roles as representatives and whether they use their online platform to stimulate citizens engagement and increase participation. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study of its kind conducted in Israel. In addition to its novelty, the typology created in this study may subsequently prove applicable to parliamentarians worldwide.
Keywords: Facebook; e-Politics; Israeli Politics; Political Communication
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