During the first semester of my Master studies, I conducted a study with my fellow student George Vitopoulos about the impact of new media on political participation. The study was focused on the EU elections 2014, and it was based on the Debating Europe case.
New Media as a Tool for Political Participation: The Debating Europe CaseStrati MariaVitopoulos George
Bridge the communication gap between policy-makers and experts.Raise awareness about the operations of the EU institutions.Spark the active civic participation by giving a voice to the citizens.
1We chose to study the Debating Europe because the European Elections are fast approc2The administrative team of Debating Europe chooses a debate. A brief video from a policy-maker or expert, which explains directly and in simple words the topic, is presented and then the participants start commenting.
3Citizens can also post questions which are forwarded directly to a policy-maker or an expert and then a brief, direct and straight forward reply is presented by a video.4Could the new media technologies be a tool for active civic participation and bridging the communication gap between citizens and politicians within the EU?Research QuestionCould the new media technologies be a tool for active civic participation by raising awareness about the European Union, engaging citizens in the decision-making process and bridging the communication gap between citizens and politicians.
5Investigate the role of new media technologies in defining the political debate online and offline.Investigate the role of new media technologies as a medium for active civic participation.Define the profile of the people who participate in the online debates.Define the role of public, private and civil society stakeholders focusing on Debating Europe case.
Research GoalsSocial media democracyA private sphereUser-generated democracy
Theoretical Background(N)ethnography: participate actively in the facebook page of the Debating Europe project from the 6th of December 2013 until the 3rd of January 2014.Conduct four synchronous facebook-chat interviews with four active community members.A detailed Skype interview with Protesilaos Stavrou, an employee of the European Parliament and an ex-active member of the European blogosphere.METHODOLOGYProtesilaos works as an assistant of the MEP Luis Tavares.8Development of another kind of market.9ConclusionsThe Debating Europe project highlights the role of new media in endorsing the active civic participation and bridging the communication gap between citizens and policy-makers.The new media technologies could also influence the political debate online and offline. Citizens does not influence directly the political discourse and the decision-making process.The participants of the project do not represent the ordinary European citizen.New media technologies do not guarantee the political participation of the citizens but they could function as the medium for active civic participation.Before the development of web 2.0 applications, the traditional media, i.e. TV, radio and press, were among the main stakeholders that used to shape the political debate due to the fact they controlled the broadcasted information./ Presence of gate-keepersIn the digital era, in which each individual may produce and consume content so it has been developed a two-way and decentralized communication./ having gate-keepers is not affordable.Mainstream media migrate online.Citizens does not influence directly the political discourse and the decision-making process: The policy-makers are aware of the citizens concerns.The participants of the project do not represent the ordinary European citizen: either politically engaged, people who have strong opinions, either positive or negative, tend to participate more./ a research focused on the online political discourse of specific groups of peopleshould be developed (people with a certain political orientation, minorities, activists etc).