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Title: Social media use, online political discussion and UK political events, 2013-2018 : a phenomenographic study
Author: Bailey, Elizabeth Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 4338
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2018
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Social media has had observably significant effects on the way many ordinary people participate in politics and appears both symptomatic and causal of a changing landscape. Research, often data-led, has shown marked trends in online behaviour, such as political polarisation, the tendency to form echo chambers and other distinct patterns in the way people debate, share opinions, express their self-identities, consume media and think critically, or otherwise, about political issues. A review of the literature shows that current research in this area across disciplines explores an increasingly wide range of potential influencing factors behind these phenomena, from the social to the psychological to the physiological. However, there have been - far - fewer phenomenological or phenomenographical studies into people's lived experience of being part of this cultural shift, how their own inclinations, practices and behaviour might be helping to shape the bigger picture, and to what extent they understand this. Starting from an interdisciplinary theoretical framework, and based on in-depth conversations with 84 mostly UK-based adults spoken to one-to-one or in focus groups and webinars over an 18-month period, this study asked people's about their own perceptions and understanding of their online engagement, focusing on recent major UK political events between 2013 and 2018, (including the Scottish Independence Referendum, The EU Referendum and the Labour Party leadership contests) and considers some of the inferences that might be drawn from people's own insights. It shows: · People's experiences are varied, influenced by a range of factors but there is a focus on personal needs and concerns as much as wider political ones · Participants often struggle with behavioural self-awareness and understanding of the motives and actions of others · They can have profound emotional responses owing to the difficulties of using social media but still value it as a medium for political learning and self-expression · A lot of activity takes places in covert, limited or private spaces · Social media itself is an unprecedented learning environment where people begin to understand their own behaviour better and adapt.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: social media discourse ; political engagement ; Brexit ; UK Labour party leadership ; Scottish referendum ; L200 Politics