Presentation Title

Do Social Networks Mirror the Ideals of a Deliberative Democracy?

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Mario Guerrero

Start Date

18-11-2017 9:45 AM

End Date

18-11-2017 10:00 AM

Location

15-1814

Session

Social Science 4

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Facebook is the largest and most popular social network site where deliberation among the American public takes place. Facebook is also a great representation of democratic deliberation because its users consist of both adults and teenagers, so it gives a greater perspective on the American voter. Many scholars argue that online political group participation can lead to increased offline group participation. Existing research demonstrates that group membership encourages trust (Brehm & Rahn 1997; Jennings & Stoker 2004), democratic values, and the development of important political skills (McFarland & Thomas 2006; Fowler 1991). Furthermore, membership in a group provides necessary motivation and incentive to be politically informed (Coleman 1988; Fishkin 1991). However, although social media can inform its users on politics, it is not effective in increasing offline group participation. Technological development has spurred what is known as “networked individualism” where individuals are more likely to share information and work in collaborative networked groups (Wellman 2002). More specifically, the Internet has created online political groups that resemble offline political groups. However, online political groups are not perfect examples for offline political groups because they are formed from heavy political biases and do not share the views of all participants. As a result of this, online political groups are not a good representation of the type of interaction that occurs in offline political groups. The biased material exchanged in these groups is detrimental to the values and ideals of a deliberative democracy because it results in the creation of a forum where members only exchange similar political views. This is contradictory to the diverse conversations and exchanges of ideas that a deliberative democracy is supposed to represent.

Summary of research results to be presented

My research is a content analysis that consists of a total of 201 Facebook comments. I randomly sampled 201 Facebook comments and compared them to five criteria of a deliberative democracy which include standard written conventions, civility, tolerance, logic, and facts. The results of this research show that many comments on Facebook do not meet these five criteria of “good deliberation”. Thus, if good deliberation does not occur on Facebook, perhaps there are serious questions about the status of the democratic process as facilitated by platforms like Facebook.

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Nov 18th, 9:45 AM Nov 18th, 10:00 AM

Do Social Networks Mirror the Ideals of a Deliberative Democracy?

15-1814

Facebook is the largest and most popular social network site where deliberation among the American public takes place. Facebook is also a great representation of democratic deliberation because its users consist of both adults and teenagers, so it gives a greater perspective on the American voter. Many scholars argue that online political group participation can lead to increased offline group participation. Existing research demonstrates that group membership encourages trust (Brehm & Rahn 1997; Jennings & Stoker 2004), democratic values, and the development of important political skills (McFarland & Thomas 2006; Fowler 1991). Furthermore, membership in a group provides necessary motivation and incentive to be politically informed (Coleman 1988; Fishkin 1991). However, although social media can inform its users on politics, it is not effective in increasing offline group participation. Technological development has spurred what is known as “networked individualism” where individuals are more likely to share information and work in collaborative networked groups (Wellman 2002). More specifically, the Internet has created online political groups that resemble offline political groups. However, online political groups are not perfect examples for offline political groups because they are formed from heavy political biases and do not share the views of all participants. As a result of this, online political groups are not a good representation of the type of interaction that occurs in offline political groups. The biased material exchanged in these groups is detrimental to the values and ideals of a deliberative democracy because it results in the creation of a forum where members only exchange similar political views. This is contradictory to the diverse conversations and exchanges of ideas that a deliberative democracy is supposed to represent.