This project aims to research the ongoing transformations in the political communication processes during the last years, influenced by both the impact of digital technologies and the social and political changes experienced in Western societies. This study is focused on the Spanish case and it is oriented towards analysing a specific phenomenon in political communication: election campaigns.
The interrelation between three classical actors in political communication (political parties, media and citizens) is the core of this research. It will observe the mutations and adaptations experienced by each of them, their subsequent communication flows and the crossed-influence processes generated in order to produce political messages and social impacts on citizenship.
Its main hypothesis points to the loss of centrality of conventional mass media within contemporary election campaigns (political mediatisation). Consequently, the influences and the circulation flows of messages are more diverse and disperse between politicians, media and citizens (there is still a prevalence of the two first ones, but there is no exclusivity anymore). The general landscape evolves from mediatisation to digitalisation, as a discursive flow that is established following the logic of a hybrid communication system accelerating flows and multiplying the diversity of actors and the complexity of political communication processes. The communities’ communication plays a crucial role in order to understand the communication strategies developed by classical actors (media and parties).
The main objectives of this project are four. First, analyse communication strategies performed by political parties, media and citizens during online election campaigns. Second, evaluate the degree of coordination or segregation between online agendas of media, citizens and politicians within the public sphere. Third, analyse the discourses raised at the web 2.0 by the three abovementioned actors during cyber campaigns. Fourth, draw a comparison of all the actors involved in these processes depending of the kind of campaign (regional, national or European), verifying which kind of contents and strategies are displayed.
Taking into consideration the chronological framework for this project, research would cover the complementary cases of study: a) regional and local elections scheduled in May 2019, b) national elections, to be run in June 2019, and c) EU Parliament elections, to be held in May 2019.
The methodological approach adopted by the two working groups is based on previous research projects, crystalizing in the following research methods: a) content analysis of political parties and media messages; b) discourse analysis of a representative sample of those messages; c) quantitative analysis (big data) of the main aspects connected to the use of communication tools, namely social networking sites; d) in-depth interviews and/or discussion groups with actors (politicians and media) and spectators (citizens) of the online campaign.
The Mediaflows Group (Grupo Mediaflows) came together in November 2013 as a Research Group under the auspices of the University of Valencia. Before then, the group had been working for six years (2007-2012), focusing on analyzing the structure of the Valencian communication system. After the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Innovation rewarded the group an R&I grant for 2014-2016, the researchers began to channel most of their research towards the study of communication flows during processes of political mobilization.
Our research aims to analyze the messages published by political parties, the media and the citizenry revolving around various electoral processes (the European Elections of 2014; the Regional Elections in Valencia in May 2015; the Spanish General Elections in December 2015 and June 2016). The major case study for our research was the Spanish General Elections of 2015. To this end, we sought to collect and analyze an extensive data corpus that would allow us to emphasize both the role of the new media and their interaction and hybridization with traditional media, in keeping with Chadwick (2013).
Specifically, the sample consisted of: political parties’ websites; the parties’ and candidates’ social networks profiles; monitoring the overall electoral campaign on Twitter; selecting a sample of political and analysis blogs; content published by the major media outlets; newscasts, debates and infotainment programs on the major TV channels; interviews with the political parties’ campaign directors and the journalists in charge of covering said campaigns in their respective media; public comments on social networks.
This extensive sample was analyzed using various methodologies, which allowed us to consider different approaches and hypotheses that could later be intertwined. Moreover, we analyzed the data from both macro and micro perspectives, depending on the case at hand. We employed the following methodologies, among others: quantitative analysis of social networks; content analysis of the media’s messages and those of the political parties; discourse analysis of news media frames and those of the political parties; discourse analysis of the TV programs with the largest audiences; extensive semi-structured interviews; analysis of citizen debate found in comments on social networks.
Over the last three years, our group has organized various conferences, seminars and academic debate forums, and has participated in many more. Moreover, it has published the preliminary results of its research in journal articles and book chapters.
You can see all the research we’ve produced so far by clicking here, and here you can see what we’ve done to disseminate our work. Lastly, by clicking here you can see the current members of our research team and their professional profiles.
To provide a stage for our work and the contributions of other scholars in the field, we held the first Mediaflows Conference from November 16 to November 18, 2016. More than 100 people registered for the Conference, which featured renowned scholars from Spain and beyond. Moreover, 58 research projects were presented, including 14 from our team.