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How social media facilitate public participation in the election of a new government: A critical analysis of Twitter discourses in Zimbabwe during the 2013 elections

dc.contributor.advisorBotma, Gabrielen_ZA
dc.contributor.authorMakombe, Leonarden_ZA
dc.contributor.otherStellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Journalism.en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned2017-11-14T05:32:00Z
dc.date.accessioned2017-12-11T10:47:12Z
dc.date.available2017-11-14T05:32:00Z
dc.date.available2017-12-11T10:47:12Z
dc.date.issued2017-12
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102731
dc.descriptionThesis (DPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.en_ZA
dc.description.abstractENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research is hinged on three overlapping fields namely, political studies, journalism, and media studies and explores how Twitter, a relatively new information and communication technology (established in 2006) was used during a very critical election in Zimbabwe in 2013. Zimbabwe is considered oppressive, with a very restricted media, thus the advent of new web-based content generating and sharing technologies, such as Twitter, were seen as critical for public political participation. This is so because technology optimists argue that new information and communication technologies including Twitter, bridge participatory gaps as they present almost anyone, with the right technology, an opportunity to publish their views. Additionally, technology optimists argue that new information and communication technologies undercut the role of “elites” who would otherwise have dominated discourse during important events such as a national election. Through the emerging networks, technology optimists further argue, users are able to challenge oppressive governments and establish weak ties, to work towards achieving shared goals. Most of the inspiration for such conclusions was drawn from the hope raised in 2009 in Iran and Moldova as well as late 2010 to 2011 when protests in some Middle East and North African countries were inappropriately called “Twitter Revolutions”. Technology optimists ascribed so much power to media by calling the protests “Twitter Revolutions”. This was despite the fact that not much empirical evidence was presented to support the supposition that Twitter was used to topple governments. This research uses critical theory to analyse the role played by Twitter in facilitating public political participation during the 2013 elections in Zimbabwe. Empirical evidence gathered through a systematic collection, archiving and analysis of tweets has shown that the potential role of social media in facilitating public political participation in Zimbabwe in 2013 was exaggerated. An analysis of the quantitative data has shown that a very small minority, around 10 percent, of the participating users, dominated the discourse on Twitter. This is a sign that despite its openness, Twitter has subtle barriers to participation, which result in such asymmetries. Qualitative analysis, through discourse historical analysis, a variant of critical discourse analysis, has shown that Twitter was a site for ideological conflict, which dispelled any attempt to classify the platform as a new public sphere. The irrational nature of communication on Twitter, together with ideological conflicts showed that Twitter was more of a public space and not public sphere.en_ZA
dc.description.abstractAFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsing betrek drie oorvleuelende velde, naamlik politieke studies, joernalistiek en mediastudies, en ondersoek hoe Twitter, ʼn relatief nuwe inligting- en kommunikasietegnologie (gestig in 2006) tydens ʼn belangrike verkiesing in Zimbabwe in 2013 gebruik is. Zimbabwe word beskou as ʼn onderdrukkende samelewing, met ʼn beperkte media. Die koms van nuwe webgebaseerde inhoud, soos op Twitter, kan gesien word as ʼn nuwe bydrae tot openbare politieke deelname. Dit is so omdat tegnologie-optimiste argumenteer dat nuwe inligting- en kommunikasietegnologieë, insluitende Twitter, nuwe geleenthede vir deelname skep, aangesien dit aan almal met die regte tegnologie ʼn platform bied om hul sienings te publiseer. Daarbenewens beweer tegnologie-optimiste dat nuwe inligting- en kommunikasietegnologie die rol van “elites” ondermyn, wat andersins die diskoers tydens belangrike gebeure soos ʼn nasionale verkiesing sou oorheers. Deur die opkomende netwerke, so beweer tegnologie-optimiste verder, is gebruikers in staat gestel om onderdrukkende regerings uit te daag en bande te smee, sodat gesamentlike doelwitte bereik kan word. Die inspirasie vir sulke gevolgtrekkings is geput uit die hoop wat in 2009 in plekke soos Iran en in 2010 tot 2011 in sommige lande in die Midde-Ooste en Noord-Afrika ontstaan het. Dit is onvanpas “Twitter-revolusies” genoem deur tegnologie-optimiste wat baie mag aan die media toegeskryf het. Dit was ten spyte van die feit dat nie veel empiriese bewyse aangebied is om die veronderstelling te ondersteun dat Twitter gebruik is om regerings omver te werp nie. Hierdie navorsing gebruik kritiese teorie om die rol van Twitter in die fasilitering van openbare politieke deelname tydens die 2013-verkiesings in Zimbabwe te ontleed. Empiriese bewyse wat spruit uit ʼn sistematiese insameling, argivering en analise van tweets het aangetoon dat die positiewe verwagtinge van sosiale media in die fasilitering van openbare politieke deelname in Zimbabwe in 2013 oordrewe was. ʼn Ontleding van die kwantitatiewe data het getoon dat ʼn baie klein minderheid, sowat 10 persent van die gebruikers, die diskoerse op Twitter oorheers het. Dit is ʼn teken dat Twitter ten spyte van sy oop platform tog subtiele belemmerings vir deelname het, wat ongelykhede tot gevolg het. Kwalitatiewe analise, deur middel van diskoershistoriese analise, ʼn variant van kritiese diskoersanalise, het getoon dat Twitter ʼn platform vir ideologiese konflik was. Dit het pogings om die platform as ʼn nuwe openbare sfeer te klassifiseer, belemmer. Die irrasionele aard van kommunikasie op Twitter, tesame met ideologiese konflikte, het getoon dat Twitter meer van ʼn openbare ruimte was, en nie ʼn openbare sfeer nie.af_ZA
dc.format.extentxiv, 264 pagesen_ZA
dc.language.isoen_ZAen_ZA
dc.publisherStellenbosch : Stellenbosch Universityen_ZA
dc.subjectJournalism -- Zimbabween_ZA
dc.subjectSocial media -- Zimbabween_ZA
dc.subjectPolitical participation -- Zimbabween_ZA
dc.subjectUCTD
dc.titleHow social media facilitate public participation in the election of a new government: A critical analysis of Twitter discourses in Zimbabwe during the 2013 electionsen_ZA
dc.typeThesisen_ZA
dc.rights.holderStellenbosch Universityen_ZA


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