Metykova, M., & Sapag M., P. (2014). Editorial: The many strands of research on new media and democracy. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 8(3), Article 1. doi:https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2014-3-1
Editorial: The many strands of research on new media and democracy

Editorial: The many strands of research on new media and democracy

Monika Metykova1, Pablo Sapag M.2
1 University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom
2 Complutense University Madrid, Spain


The relationship between media and democracy has been the subject of scholarly scrutiny for a long time and arguably the democratizing potential of information and communication technologies sparked a renewed interest in this area of research. The popularity of the topic was reflected in the number of abstracts that we received for this special issue as well as in the range of research questions, geographical areas and disciplinary fields that they addressed.

We were hoping that our special issue will not only engage with some of the most pressing scholarly as well as societal issues in the ‘new’ and ‘old’ democracies of Europe – such as the disengagement of young people from institutional politics and the potential of new media in remedying this situation – but that it would reach out to societies and cases that receive less scholarly attention.

It was clear to us from the very inception of this special issue that explorations of the complex and rich relationship between new media and democratic politics (polity) require a variety of often interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies. The scope of the individual articles in the special issue varies greatly – from large-scale quantitative surveys to individual civic applications – which underlines the complexity and urgency of the research presented here.

We believe that our special issue enriches academic debates about the actual empirically verified potential of new media in (re)engaging the public with the (broadly conceived) political. It is clear that local cultures and levels of institutional trust shape the ways in which citizens use new media as tools for political participation. Algorithms, risks associated with discussing politics online as well as authenticity associated with online political participation also play a crucial role.

In “Participatory trouble: Towards an understanding of algorithmic structures on Facebook” Martin Berg combines the analysis of sixty six self-reflexive diaries on Facebook use with a study of the algorithmic structures on Facebook to explore how personalized social feeds affect the experienced relationship between self and others as well as the readiness to share information to a network of peers. He arrives at the conclusion that algorithmic structures on Facebook actually undermine the participatory potential of social networking media as they are crucial for the production of a social microcosm in which social interactions are structured in limiting ways.

The use of social networking media is also central to Lázaro M. Bacallao-Pino’s study of three recent cases of social mobilisations: Occupy Wall Street (USA), Taksim Square protests (Turkey) and #YoSoy132 (Mexico). In “Social media mobilisations: Articulating participatory processes or visibilizing dissent?” he uses discourse analysis to uncover three main themes in the narratives surrounding the above mobilisations: references to democracy, in particular criticisms of representative democracy and proposals for alternatives; comments on the role of social media in social mobilisation and its development; and reflections on tensions between online and offline actions as part of collective action.

Ksenia Ermoshina’s “Democracy as pothole repair: Civic applications and cyber-empowerment in Russia” offers a detailed exploration of three civic apps – applications for smartphones and web – largely used by Russian social movements to address a range of problems from pothole reporting to mapping decayed public spaces. She shows that these apps – developed by independent programmers and anti-Putin activists – become a means of collective action and empowerment, redefining traditional repertoires of contention. The apps help citizens participate in public life, providing them with expertise and they also facilitate citizen control.

The case study of the Czech online activist group Žít Brno by Alena Macková and Jakub Macek explores the complexity of the transformation of a largely satirical loosely organized protest to a fully-fledged institutional (local) political actor. Their “‘Žít Brno’: Czech online political activism from jokes and tactics to politics and strategies” traces the evolution of the group’s online practices and more traditional repertoire of collective action and the authors arrive at the conclusion that online protest and new media could enable a functional bridge to “real” politics but they do not play an exclusive role in successful protest politics.

In “Only online: Which Czech young adults prefer online civic participation?” Jan Šerek and Hana Machackova explore whether young Czechs who prefer online over offline civic participation systematically differ from people engaging in other types of civic participation. Unlike the already mentioned studies in this issue, theirs uses a quantitative approach and works with a cross-sectional sample of Czech adults aged 18-28 (N = 720). Their most striking results concern political ideology as online activists (compared to others in their sample) describe themselves as being closer to the political right on a left-right ideological spectrum and they support affirmative action towards immigrants less.

Also focusing on the relation between online and offline political participation, in “Whither slacktivism? Political engagement and social media use in the 2013 Czech Parliamentary Elections” Václav Štětka and Jaromír Mazák show that online political participation during an electoral campaign is associated with high levels of offline political engagement. Their large-scale study involved a cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of the Czech adult population (N = 1,653) and they show how a “new” Eastern European democracy shares some political participatory behaviours with more mature democratic systems.

One of these democracies is discussed in Malin Sveningsson’s “‘I don’t like it and I think it’s useless, people discussing politics on Facebook’: Young Swedes’ understandings of social media use for political discussion” as here too young people demonstrate a decrease in political participatory activities. Sveningsson focuses on an understudied group – young people who are interested in politics but not engaged – and her results suggest that these young people are discouraged from discussing politics on Facebook due to risks – for conflict, misunderstandings and deceit – and inauthenticity which they associate with such discussions.

The way a very specific cultural and socio-political background frames young people’s use of social media is explored by Ildiko Kaposi in the final article of this special issue. “The culture and politics of internet use among young people in Kuwait” explores the meanings and democratic potentials of the internet for youth in the Gulf Arab country of Kuwait. Kaposi explores the complexities of the mutual shaping of the offline and online worlds and argues that since young people make up the majority of the country’s population, their uses of the internet and experiences online can have a gradually unfolding impact on public life in Kuwait in the longer run.

We hope that the special issue will prove to be a stimulating and interesting read and we would like to thank the authors, the peer reviewers as well as the editorial assistants for their help with publishing it.

Monika Metykova & Pablo Sapag Muñoz de la Peña



Issue Content

Editorial: The many strands of research on new media and democracy
Monika Metykova and Pablo Sapag M.
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-1

Participatory trouble: Towards an understanding of algorithmic structures on Facebook
Martin Berg
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-2

Social media mobilisations: Articulating participatory processes or visibilizing dissent?
Lázaro M. Bacallao-Pino
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-3

Democracy as pothole repair: Civic applications and cyber-empowerment in Russia
Kseniia Ermoshina
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-4

'Žít Brno': Czech online political activism from jokes and tactics to politics and strategies
Alena Macková and Jakub Macek
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-5

Only online: Which Czech young adults prefer online civic participation?
Jan Šerek and Hana Machackova
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-6

Whither slacktivism? Political engagement and social media use in the 2013 Czech Parliamentary Elections
Václav Štětka and Jaromír Mazák
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-7

"I don't like it and I think it's useless, people discussing politics on Facebook": Young Swedes' understandings of social media use for political discussion
Malin Sveningsson
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-8

The culture and politics of internet use among young people in Kuwait
ldiko Kaposi
doi: 10.5817/CP2014-3-9

About Journal

The 'Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace' is a web-based, peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The first peer-reviewed issue was published in September 2007. The journal is focussed on social science research about cyberspace. It brings psychosocial reflections of the impact of the Internet on people and society. The journal is interdisciplinary, publishing works written by scholars of psychology, media studies, sociology, political science, nursing, and also other disciplines. The journal accepts original research articles, as well as theoretical studies and research meta-analyses. Proposals for special issues are also welcomed.

The journal is indexed with EBSCO Academic Search Complete, the Directory of Open Access Journals, SCOPUS and the Czech Database of Scientific Journals.

Editor

Assoc. Prof. David Smahel, M.Sc. et Ph.D., Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
E-mail: smahel(at)fss.muni.cz

Associate Editor

Prof. Kristian Daneback, Ph.D., University of Gothenburg, Sweden
E-mail: kristian.daneback(at)socwork.gu.se

Guest Editors of Special Issue "New Media and Democracy"

Monika Metykova, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
E-mail: m.metykova(at)sussex.ac.uk

Pablo Sapag M., Complutense University of Madrid, Spain
E-mail: pvsapag(at)pdi.ucm.es

Editor Assistant

Lenka Dedkova, M.A., Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
E-mail: ldedkova(at)fss.muni.cz

Editorial Board:

Prof. Kaveri Subrahmanyam, Ph.D., California State University, Los Angeles, USA
Prof. Herbert Hrachovec, Ph.D., University of Vienna, Austria
Prof. Dr. Micheline Frenette, Universite de Montreal, Canada
Prof. Alexander E. Voiskounsky, Ph.D., Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia
Prof. Michael W. Ross, Ph.D., DrMedSc, MPH, MPHEd, University of Texas, Houston, USA
Prof. Petr Macek, CSc., Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Prof. Olle Findahl, World Internet Institute, Sweden
Prof. Jochen Peter, Ph.D., University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Prof. Veronika Kalmus, Ph.D., University of Tartu, Estonia
Prof. Joshua Fogel, Ph.D., Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, USA
Prof. Gustavo S. Mesch, Ph.D., University of Haifa, Israel
Michelle Wright, Ph.D., Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Václav Štětka, Ph.D., Charles University, Czech Republic
Andra Siibak, Ph.D., University of Tartu, Estonia
Adjunct Prof. Birgit U. Stetina, Ph.D., University of Vienna, Austria
Lukas Blinka, Ph.D., Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Advisory Board:

Prof. Bente Traen, Ph.D., University of Oslo, Norway
Prof. Charles Ess, Ph.D., University of Oslo, Norway
Prof. Dr. Ilse Kryspin-Exner, University of Vienna, Austria
Prof. PhDr. Jan Jirák, Ph.D., Charles University, Czech Republic
Prof. Vasja Vehovar, Ph.D., University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Prof. Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D., California State University, USA
Prof. Patricia M. Greenfield, Ph.D., University of California, USA
Prof. Peter K Smith, University of London, England
Prof. Nicola Döring, Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany
Prof. Kimberly Young, Ph.D., St. Bonaventure University, USA
Prof. Jos de Haan, Ph.D., Erasmus University, Netherlands
Prof. Zbyněk Vybíral, Ph.D, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Prof. Monica Whitty, Ph.D., University of Leicester, UK
Prof. Alistair Duff, Ph.D., Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland
Assoc. Prof. Alfred Choi, Ph.D., Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Prof. Thurasamy Ramayah, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia
Assoc. Prof. Neil Coulson, Ph.D., The University of Nottingham, UK
Assoc. Prof. Kenneth C. C. Yang, Ph.D., University of Texas at El Paso, USA
Assoc. Prof. Sun Sun Lim, Ph.D., National University of Singapore, Singapore
Prof. Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, USA
Assoc. Prof. Jana Horáková, Ph.D., Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Assoc. Prof. Radim Polčák, Ph.D., Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Assoc. Prof. Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, Ph.D., University of Tartu, Estonia
Assist. Prof. Alexander Schouten, Ph.D., Tilburg University, Netherlands
Assist. Prof. Ewa S. Callahan, Ph.D., Quinnipiac University, USA
Assist. Prof. Regina van den Eijnden, Ph.D., Utrecht University, Netherlands
PhDr. Ing. Petr Soukup, Charles University, Czech Republic
Janis Wolak, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire, USA
Francesca Romana Seganti, Ph.D., Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
Jeff Gavin, Ph.D., University of Bath, UK
Hana Macháčková, Ph.D., Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk
University, Czech Republic
Michael Fenichel, Ph.D., New York, USA
Leslie Haddon, Ph.D., London School of Economics, UK
Monica Barbovschi, Ph.D., Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Jan Širůček, Ph.D., Masaryk University, Czech Republic

Publisher

Masaryk University, Faculty of Social Studies
Jostova 10, 60200 Brno
Czech Republic

Publication Schedule

Twice per year (July and December) plus special issues