Political Participation on Social Media : The Lived Experience of Online Debate
This book explores people's lived experience of discussing politics online. Based on original research involving in-depth conversations with 85 participants around the UK, it asks people about their own understanding of their online engagement, focusing on major UK political events and related debates -the Scottish Independence Referendum, the EU Referendum and the UK Labour Party leadership contests. It shows how people's experiences are varied and influenced by many factors, but with a focus on personal feelings, needs and concerns as much as wider political ones. Participants struggle with self-awareness and understanding the motives and actions of others, which has an impact on their behaviour and perceived efficacy. They can have profound emotional responses owing to the constraints of using social media but still value it as a medium for political learning and self-expression. Communication effects in this environment are complex and unpredictable - there is much 'crosstalk'. Social media itself is proving to be an unprecedented learning environment, where people begin to better understand their own behaviour and that of others and adapt over time.