Everyday elites, citizens, or extremists? Assessing the use and users of non-election political hashtags
As research has indicated, what are sometimes described as traditional forms of political-parliamentary participation are dwindling in most Western democracies, and the Internet has often been pointed to as harboring the means to hinder these developments. While empirical studies on these matters have at best provided mixed results, social media services, like Twitter, have yet again fanned the flames of the most enthusiastic debaters. This paper moves beyond the often-studied context of parliamentary elections and instead offers a structural study of everyday political discussions on Twitter. Specifically, tweets from political contexts in Sweden and Norway are collected and analyzed with a specific focus on the top users and their activities. Results indicate that while thematic Twitter discussions can indeed serve as a potential channel for citizens, the influence of established as well as political extremist actors is also clearly discerned.
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