Bridging Democratic Gaps or Building Political Brands? Perceptions of Representation from the Participation of MEPs in Social Media

Ioannis Zisis, Dianne Dean (Supervisor), Elizabeth Monaghan (Supervisor)

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract

This thesis provides a study of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from Ireland, Greece and Cyprus and their use of Social Media Platforms (SMPs). Specifically, the thesis explores MEPs’ motivations for online engagement and the strategies they apply through their social media accounts. The MEPs face a growing demand for approachability and responsiveness within an expanding framework of disconnection and Euroscepticism. The objective is to determine whether they engage online to embrace citizens’ inclusion and the bridging of the democratic gaps which have been exacerbated by the recent crises or whether they focus more on exploiting the promotional advantages of SMPs to enhance their political brand.

Central to the thesis purpose is to collect and interpret the perceptions of the MEPs about the functions of accountability, policy discussion and branding. The collection and analysis of data from semi-structured interviews with the MEPs and the qualitative analysis of content from their social media accounts revealed a series of accountability, policy discussion and branding motivations and strategies. These in combination with the post-crisis social media landscape, determine the types, volume and quality of the interactions that MEPs from crisis-inflicted states pursue online during routine (non- campaigning) timeframes.

The contribution of the thesis is that it approaches a contemporary phenomenon from an overlooked angle, i.e. how European representatives perceive and prioritise the parameters of online interaction and how this affects the engagement with constituents. Approaching the online activities of the MEPs from a non-traditional theory of representation becomes the key to accommodate their branding incentives and understand and acknowledge their particularities as supranational representatives. This also contributes to outlining an area of theoretical interest where the profiling of representational brands and the use of descriptive features find their place within a participatory framework which surpasses the sanction/reward scheme of the electoral mandate.
Original languageEnglish
TypePhD Thesis
PublisherUniversity of Hull
Number of pages286
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Keywords

  • social media
  • MEPs
  • accountability
  • policy discussion
  • branding

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