Media Logic Revisited. The Concept of Social Media Logic as Alternative Framework to Study Politicians’ Usage of Social Media During Election Times
This study investigates two tendencies that characterize the transformation of political communication; i.e. mediatization and de-centralization. More specifically, we assess Flemish politicians’ social media usage with respect to both tendencies. On the one hand, these platforms are used to appeal to journalists and on the other hand, they are used to communicate directly with voters. Our theoretical framework draws on two key concepts of the mediatization of politics; i.e. political logic and media logic. Furthermore, our framework integrates recent conceptualizations of social media’s logic to account for the role these platforms play in shaping politicians’ behavior. Based on in-depth interviews and a content analysis of politicians’ behavior on Twitter and Facebook, we show politicians adapt their messages to appeal to journalists. Adaptation is linked to politicians’ position in the political field and the political consensus culture. In addition, politicians’ efforts to connect with citizens are influenced by social media’s logic. Hence, de-centralization is characterized by the negotiation between online popularity (metrified via likes and shares) and the presentation of one’s political views. The presentation of a more “human” self and dialogue with citizens is balanced with the instrumental usage of social media in favor of politicians’ candidacy. Together, the findings show the intensification of the struggle over the legitimacy of one’s political views. Additional conceptual and empirical work are needed to critically assess the consequences of the multimedia environment for political communication, and in extension, democracy.
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