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Sunday, September 28 • 14:56 - 15:15
"Changing politics? Brokers and spillover effect among the members of the Catalan parliament Twitter network"

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Background: Social Media have become new channels for information and communication within political parties, among representatives and their voters or between representatives themselves at the Parliament. Specifically, literature on Parliament representatives’ use of Twitter focuses on several aspects: First, Lassen and Brown (2010) and Chi and Yang (2020) analyzed the relationship between members of Congress’ demographic characteristics and their propensity to adopt twitter, and Williams and Gulati (2010) stated that party pertinence and campaign resources are drivers of twitter adoption. Second, other researchers studied the parliamentarians’ behavior on twitter in terms of the content of their tweets (Goldbeck, Grimes & Rogers, 2010; Glassman, Straus & Shogan, 2013 ) and the characteristics of their interactions –replies and mentions- (Grant, Moon & Grant, 2010; Saebo, 2011; Thamm & Bleier, 2013). Lastly, more recently some researchers analyzed Twitter relations among representatives from a social network analysis perspective (Verweij, 2012; Smith, Rainie, Himelboim and Shneiderman, 2014; Yoon and Park, 2014).

Objective: We will contribute to the aforementioned literature analysing the Twitter interaction between the members of the Catalan Parliament. Our objective is to study if Social Media are changing relevant dimensions of party politics such as ideological and party boundaries or the members’ hierarchical position inside the party and which are the factors influencing Parliamentarians’ twitter behavior. Specifically, we will test the “spillover effect” and the appearance of “brokers” on a well-delimited political network: the members of the Catalan Parliament with twitter accounts in 2013-2014.  In addition, we will examine the role of several political and socio-demographic factors on the rising of brokers.

Methods:  Social Network Analysis is used to study from a double perspective the Twitter interaction between the members of the Catalan Parliament:

1) The following-follower relationship between the Catalan deputies in order to find out the brokers of the network by ranking their betweenes centrality. Moreover, we will also run a Logistic regression analysis (with four explanatory dimensions: a.-Internet behavior of the parliamentarians; b.- Parliamentarian activity of the deputies; c.-Socio-demographic characteristics of the members of the parliament; d.- Electoral relevance of the deputies’ party)

2) All the mentions and retweets made by the Catalan deputies in order to rank the Twitter interaction among the deputies and, consequently, between the groups to which they pertain, so we can ascertain the spillover effect between the Parliament’s groups.

Results:  Network analyses revealed that the Catalan parliamentarians twitter networks (following-follower, retweets and mentions) are an example of a Tight Crowd Network community (Smith, Rainie, Himelboim and Shneiderman, 2014) which pave the way for the appearance of brokers. In that regard, regression analysis revealed that the age and the education level of the parliamentarians, their parliamentarian activity and the electoral results of their parties, are key factors of their broker behaviour. Moreover, the network analysis also shows that the communication in the Twitter Network of the Catalan deputies is mainly concentrated among the parliamentarian groups yet we observe that the two axis of the Catalan politics (Left-Right and Catalan nationalist or Spanish nationalist) play a role in structuring the relations on Twitter of the Catalan deputies boosting the interaction among the deputies who share the same axe position.

Conclusions:  The overall conclusion is that Twitter doesn’t extend significantly communication and interactions over party boundaries between the members of the Parliament, but that the initiative and leadership in this media (that is, the brokers) is usually different from the official leaders of the party. Indeed, we also observe that the two axes of the Catalan politics play a relevant role in structuring the relations among the Catalan deputies on Twitter.  

Chi,F., & Yang,N. (2010). Twitter Adoption in Congress. Review of Network Economics, 10 (1),1-49.

Congressional Research Service. (2013). Social Networking and Constituent Communications: Member Use of Twitter  During a Two-Month Period in the 111th Congress (7-5700, R41066). Washington, DC: Glassman,M.E., Strauss,J.R., & Shogan,C.J. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41066.pdf

Goldbeck, J., Grimes, J. M., & Rogers, A. (2010). Twitter use by the U.S. Congress. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(8), 1612–1621.

Grant, W.J, Moon, B. & Grant, J.B. (2010). Australians Politicians Use of the Social Network Tool Twitter. Australian Journal of Political Science, 45 (4) 579-604.

Lassen,D.S., & Brown,A.R. (2010). Twitter: The Electoral Connection?. Social Science Computer, ooo(oo), 1-18. doi: 10.1177/0894439310382749

Pew Research Center. (2014). Mapping Twitter Topics Networks. From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters.  Washington DC: Smith, A.M., Rainie, L., Shneiderman,B., & Himelboim.I.

Saebo, O. (2011). Understanding Twitter Use among Parliament Representatives: A Genre Analysis. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 6847, 1-12. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-23333-3_1

Thamm, M., & Bleier, A. (2013). When Politicians Tweet: A Study on the Members of the Germ an Federal Diet. In ACM Web Science 2013. Paris, France. Retrieved from http://www.websci13.org/

Verweij, P. (2012). Twitter Links Between Politicians and Journalists. Journalism Practice, 6 (5-6), 680-691. Doi: 10.1080/17512786.2012.667272

Williams,C.B., & Gulati,G.J. (2010). Communicating with Constituents in 140 Characters or Less. Working Papers. Paper 43. Retrieved from http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/pn_wp/43

Yoon, H.Y., & Park, W.H. (2014). Strategies Affecting Twitter Based Networking Pattern of South Korean Politicians: Social Network Analysis and Exponential Random Graph Model. Quality and Quantity, 48 (1), 409-423.


Rosa Borge

Open University of Catalonia

Marc Esteve

Researcher and PHD student, Open University of Catalonia (Internet Interdisciplinary Institute)
My Keywords: Research: Politics; Communication; ICT's; Social Media; Surf.

Sunday September 28, 2014 14:56 - 15:15
TRS 1-147 Ted Rogers School of Management

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