Category Archives: publication

“Picture-Perfect Populism”

Cover of New Media & Society

New publication out – this one took a little over a year from start to finish. The paper, which has been published online in New Media & Society, deals with the rise of populist parties in Europe and the ways in which such parties appear to dominate Facebook in terms of gaining traction on the specified platform – especially when using audio-visual means of communication. The abstract reads as follows:

“This article presents a longitudinal, structural study where party and citizen activity on Facebook is studied over a 10-year period, outlining the growing importance of audio-visual content for online campaigning purposes – as well as the rise of populist parties on the same platform. The study shows that an overall increased focus on video as a means of communication emerges as especially pertinent for native Facebook functionalities. This could have repercussions for how online political communication messages are fashioned – and also for the dependencies on platforms that are supposedly strengthened as parties make choices regarding where to invest their campaign resources. In terms of citizen engagement, the results indicate the dominance of populist parties, who have strengthened their positions on the studied platform. The dominance of populist actors will likely have repercussions for the algorithmic spread of political messages – as well as for the ways in which political messages are shaped.”

Accepted versions of the paper are available at or ResearchGate, the publisher’s version can be found here – and if I have understood things correctly, a few free pdf copies should be available following this link.

Right-wingers on the rise online: Insights from the 2018 Swedish elections

Academic publishing is a funny business – while double blind peer review is probably the best way we have at our disposal to assess the quality of scientific contributions, it is by no means a perfect system. This paper – “Right-wingers on the rise online: Insights from the 2018 Swedish elections” – was just published online published online before print in new media & society, which is considered a high-ranked journal in my field. Before I submitted it to that journal, the very same paper was desk rejected at another similarly high-ranked journal. Go figure. Anyway, the abstract reads as follows:

Political elections see several actors rise to the fore in order to influence and inform voters. Increasingly, such processes take place on social media like Facebook, where media outlets and politicians alike utilize seek promote their respective agenda. Given the recent rise of so-called hyperpartisan media—often described as purveyors of “fake news”—and populist right-wing parties across a series of western contexts, this study details the degree to which these novel actors succeed in overtaking their more mainstream or indeed established competitors when it comes to audience engagement on the mentioned platform. Focusing on the one-month period leading up to the 2018 Swedish national elections, the study finds that right-wing actors across the media and the political sector are more successful in engaging their Facebook followers than their competitors. As audience engagement is a key factor for social media success, the study closes by providing a discussion on the repercussions for professionals within the media and the political sector.

For those of you interested in reading the full paper, it is available on the publisher web page as well as in pre-print varieties over at ResearchGate and This was also the first study published where I make use of data gathered by means of CrowdTangle – more to come…

I originally wanted to title this “Anger is an Energy”

Update 17-02-08: The paper is now available on the journal web page, more specifically here.

A paper I wrote on the uses of Facebook Reactions – the diversified forms of likes that were rolled out by the specified platform during the spring of 2016 – was recently accepted for publication in Journalism Practice. The abstract can be found below, and the pre-print version of the paper is available at or ResearchGate.

News sharing and commenting is arguably one of the most interesting aspects of how news are consumed and interacted with online. Finding answers to questions regarding who engages in these ways, what type of content gets engaged with and why certain items are shared and commented upon but not others are of the utmost importance for those who want to navigate the complex echo system of online news flows. The paper at hand addresses the latter two of the three posed questions – what gets shared or commented, and why – in the context of the social networking site Facebook. Detailing the influences of Reactions, an expansion of the ‘Like’ button launched during the spring of 2016, the presented analyses find that Reactions such as Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry emerge as somewhat unpopular in relation to the original Like functionality. Moreover, while more positive forms Reactions appear to have a hampering effect on the willingness of news consumers on Facebook to engage by means of sharing and commenting, more negative varieties of Facebook Reactions appear to yield adverse influences

The paper generated some interest from a few journalists:

Lavik, Maria (2016). Mislik og del. Klassekampen, december 28th. Available here (pdf).

Gilberg, Lars (2016). Følelsen av at fakta er feil. Vårt Land, december 6th. Available here(pdf).

Skarsgård, Marianne L. (2016). Nyhetene som deles mest på, december 5th.

Amdahl, Pernille (2016). Sinte nyheter deles mest. Interview on NRK public service radio regarding news sharing on social media. Broadcast december 5th.

Eckblad, Bjørn (2016). «Sinte» nyheter deles mest på Facebook. Feature on news sharing on social media in Dagens Næringsliv, december 5th. Available here (pdf).

… and as for the original title, it was inspired by – or perhaps rather stolen from – the lyrics of a certain angry brit. Also, this.

A return to Journalism research – sort of

Recent publications - may 2016

I’m happy to report that recent months have seen the acceptance of a few research papers that I’ve been involved with. All of them are geared towards detailing various aspects of journalist use of the Internet and social media – a theme I’m glad to return to after a couple of years mainly focusing on online political communication. With the bulk of these publications, my goal has been to move beyond the focus on Twitter that has been rather common in a lot of recent work on online journalism. As such, the two solo-authored papers presented here deal with data gathered from Facebook, while the paper co-authored with Christensen offers a comparative perspective, employing mixed methods as well as data gathered from both mentioned services. Finally, the paper co-authored with Ihlebæk presents the results of a survey looking into the broader aspects of social media practices by Norwegian journalists. Below, you will find the abstracts for these papers, as well as links to online resources where you can find out more.

In it for the long run? Swedish newspapers and their audiences on Facebook 2010–2014
Accepted for publication in Journalism Practice
Pre-print version available at or ResearchGate

While previous research has focused on the uses of a variety of online services—such as Web pages and, more recently, Twitter—by media organizations and their audiences, a rather limited amount of empirical inquiry has been directed towards the often more and broadly used Facebook platform. The current paper contributes to the research field by providing a longitudinal study of journalist and audience engagement on the Facebook pages of Sweden’s four major newspapers—Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Expressen and Svenska Dagbladet. Employing state-of-the-art methods for data collection, the results indicate that while audiences appear to be increasing their engagement with news organizations on Facebook—albeit mostly through so-called “likes”—the media organizations themselves are decreasing their engagement with audiences.

“I Shared the News Today, Oh Boy” – News provision and interaction on Facebook
Accepted for publication in Journalism Studies
Pre-print version available at or ResearchGate.

Swedish newspapers have hosted Web pages since the mid-1990s, and are often pointed to as some of the most popular online locations in the Swedish-speaking online sphere. These organizations have also taken to social media, maintaining presences on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The current study is focused on the latter of the two. It features a twofold aim, detailing the types of content provided by the four largest Swedish newspapers on their Facebook pages, and the types and levels of interaction this content is met with by their page visitors. For tabloid newspapers in particular, the types of news most provided (human interest-type stories) are not matched by the types of news most interacted with by the audience members. Possible reasons for and implications of this apparent imbalance are discussed.

From showroom to chat room – SVT on social media during the 2014 Swedish elections.
Accepted for publication in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Co-Authored with Christian Christensen
Pre-print version available at or ResearchGate.

Whilst social media like Twitter and Facebook carry with them the potential for the practice of journalism, novelties like these are also associated with adaptation difficulties – perhaps especially when it comes to the interactive capabilities that services like these afford. This study employs a multi-method approach to study the different uses of Twitter and Facebook by one media company – the Swedish public service broadcaster (PSB) Sveriges Television – during the 2014 election year. Utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data, we find that Twitter was used more extensively and in a comparably more interactive fashion than Facebook. Hence we suggest Twitter, used more for interaction, functions as a ‘chat room’; whilst Facebook, used more for broadcasting messages, can be viewed as functioning like a ‘showroom’. As Twitter is often associated with societal elites in the Swedish context, it raises a question about the suitability for a PSB to engage to such a degree on this particular platform.

BEYOND “J-TWEETERS” – Assessing the social media use of Norwegian journalists across multiple platforms
Accepted for publication in Journalism Practice
Co-authored with Karoline Andrea Ihlebæk
Pre-print version available at or ResearchGate

Based on a survey (N=1 613) directed to members of The Norwegian Journalist Association (NJ), this paper presents an extensive overview of the ways in which comparably older and newer online platforms have been incorporated into the professional lives of Norwegian journalists. While plenty of research is available that explores the uses of Twitter by journalists, the results presented here suggest that Facebook is by far the most frequently used platform throughout the journalistic process – from collecting information, distributing content and engaging with readers. Statistical analyses provide further insights into which variables appear to influence certain modes of usage across the studied platforms. Based on the results, the argument is made that the advantages of using Facebook as a platform for journalistic practices are obvious due to its popularity among the general public, but that this utilization of one platform over others also could be problematic. As Facebook continues to gain leverage towards the newspapers they host, questions of journalistic practices need to come to the fore.

Review of “Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks”

Cover of "Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks"


I was asked by the editors of Information Polity to review Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks, an edited volume that deals with primarily methodological issues of online research. Below, you will find the preprint version – this is also available over at as well as on ResearchGate.

— — —

Review of Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks
– Cantijoch, Gibson and Ward (eds.)

Anders Olof Larsson
Department of Media and Communication
University of Oslo

The digital realm offers a multitude of opportunities for research. However, given the ever-changing nature of online environments, research focused on assessing such “moving targets” (McMillan, 2000) need to “freeze the flow” (Karlsson and Strömbäck, 2010) or make the data deluge available online suitable for scientific analysis in some other way. The volume at hand, Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks is edited by Marta Cantijoch, Rachel Gibson and Stephen Ward and offers a series of useful and often practical insights for those of us who take special interest in analysis of online media. Specifically, the book features ten chapters that all provide insights into (primarily) methodological issues, presented by some of the most well known authors in what could perhaps be described as the field of online political communication (and beyond). In this review of the book, I have arranged my comments around five main issues that permeate throughout the text. In so doing, I’ll provide examples from individual chapters featured in the title, as well as from other sources. I’ve chosen to label the five issues dealt with as follows: The ever-changing nature of online services; Commercialization of data access; Socio-demographic perspectives; Ethical issues and Comparing with what is to come.

First, digital methods are fickle. They need to be fashioned so as to be able to adapt to and catch the aforementioned online flows. Indeed, researchers have dealt with what I like to call the ever-changing nature of online services for some twenty years, painstakingly learning from previous mistakes and developing more efficient ways of data gathering from online sources. Often, the tools used for such endeavors are constructed and maintained by individual scholars and their respective research groups, making it somewhat difficult for the community at large to judge the merits of any particular tool in comparison to some other variety. For example, while I am certain that the services introduced by Thelwall and Hussain et. al. in their chapters are of the utmost quality, the very fact that more and more purpose-built tools are launched could lead to difficulty in performing cumulative, comparative research as researchers select their tool of choice from an ever-increasing array of instruments. We should, of course, always strive to improve our tools, but the lament of the editors regarding the apparent lack of theoretical cohesion would appear to ring true also for these issues: “the field has deviated from [systematic theoretical inquiry] in a rather chaotic fashion, which makes cross-country and longitudinal comparison extremely difficult” (Cantijoch, Gibson, and Ward, 2014: 16-17). A similar statement could arguably made with regards to the methodological development of online research, broadly defined.

Second, such tools for collecting are made subject to almost constantly updated rules of the social media platforms they allow us to study. Such changes often appear to be related to what is understood in this review as ongoing processes of commercialization of data access. We can, for example, point to relatively recent delimitations of free access to a variety of public application programming interfaces (APIs) as hosted by Twitter (e.g. Burgess and Bruns, 2012), or the delimitations of functionalities imposed by Facebook on the freely available Netvizz data extraction service (Rieder, 2015). Indeed, issues like these are touched upon in the chapter penned by Jungerr and Jürgens, but it would have been nice if the authors or editors had touched upon what could be labeled as critical interpretations of these developments. With such a view in mind, the chapter by Graham and Wright correctly suggests that “people’s online data is often commercially valuable” (Cantijoch, et al., 2014: 204) – but what does such value entail for academic conduct? Arguably, the current developments are detrimental for scientists who, often with scarce funding, seek to perform research detailing services like these. As such, there is a clear risk that the increased commercialization of data access will contribute to a further widening of the already existing chasms between “data-rich” and “data-poor” scholars (e.g. Larsson, 2015).

My third point considers socio-demographic perspectives of the users whose digital trace data often end up in our work sheets, research notebooks and eventually (or hopefully, perhaps) published works. Specifically, regardless of how data are collected, we must assess who the producers of these data are – at least in some overarching, structural sense. Here, many of the included authors do a good job at acknowledging the biases that societal divisions like these unequivocally place on the data we gather from online sources. Increased knowledge about such stratifications should help end the sometimes heard happy-go-lucky type argument that data, because it is so plentiful (or even “big”, if you will), would be representative of the public opinion. Certain groups of citizens will always be overrepresented for certain forms of media use – a difficult obstacle to overcome for scholars, but an obstacle to be acknowledged clearly, nonetheless (e.g. Hargittai and Litt, 2012). Of course, such over- or underrepresented groups could be expected to vary across countries and contexts – something that further underlines the necessity of and challenges with comparative research across the strata of your choice.

Fourth, ethical issues are, or at least should be, at the very heart of scholarship. Such choices and prioritizations seemingly become especially poignant in the online context, where data emanating from a variety of user profiles and interactions can be collected and systematized with relative ease. The openness of online platforms like Twitter or YouTube is sometimes discussed as providing a carte blanche for various forms of data collection. Therefore, it is refreshing to see such arguably simplistic approaches to methodology questioned in Thelwall’s chapter, where it is suggested that “[d]espite this openness, there is of course a need for researchers to exercise discretion when personally identifying individuals in the course of their research” (Cantijoch, et al., 2014: 76). Related to such identification of individuals is the topic or theme dealt with in the tweets, Facebook posts or YouTube videos examined. While it might be technically true that “the majority of this data is open for all to examine” (Vargo, Guo, McCombs, and Shaw, 2014: 296), special consideration should be taken when the content deals with what could be understood as sensitive topics, such as sexual preferences or political orientation (Ess, 2013; Moe and Larsson, 2012). A recent overview by Zimmer and Proferes suggests that at least for research into Twitter, reflection on ethical issues are seldom seen (Zimmer and Proferes, 2014). This reviewer would be surprised if the situation was different for scholarship detailing other, similar services. One way to approach ethical issues has been to focus on content that has been actively put forward by users in such a way as to indicate their willingness to be seen in a specific thematic context. On Twitter, for example, this has been done by focusing on so-called hashtags – thematic keywords included by the users themselves to show thematic coherence. Such an approach is favored by a series of authors contributing to the volume at hand, like the previously mentioned chapter by Jungherr and Jürgens as well as the section penned by García-Albacete and Theocharis. Indeed, this way of approaching research could be seen as relatively unproblematic from an ethical point of view. However, the issue of what lies beyond the hashtag – in other words, what contents of relevance we are missing out on by delimiting our searches in this supposedly ethically sound way – remains unanswered.

My fifth point, comparing with what is to come, relates back to the first one. I mentioned at the beginning of this review that the methods discussed here could be seen as in constant flux, given the almost continuous changes taking place within the technical infrastructures we wish to study. For this final point, I’d like to stress the fact that not only do these infrastructures change – they will undoubtedly become out-of-date at some point, replaced by some new variety. Indeed, the services we study today will most likely not be around tomorrow, and it would have been fruitful to see the authors and editors reflect to a higher degree on such issues of cross-platform comparability in the volume. For example, how do we secure longitudinal insights, comparing possible future online platforms with those in fashion today if we construct our data collection tools and phrase our research questions based on the affordances of those services currently available?

Finally, while studies assessing the use of various social media platforms are all the rage, it is good to see that Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks also features a series of chapters dealing with analyses of web sites, particularly those provided by Rosalund Southern and Benjamin N. Lee. Indeed, while it might be tempting to study comparably new services like social media platforms, the important role of web pages within political campaigning should be acknowledged with a suitable amount of attention from researchers. In conclusion, while the focus of the book is placed on issues primarily of concern to the broader field of political communication, such a thematic delimitation should not keep potential readers with mainly methodological interests at bay – the rich perspectives offered here are sure to be of use also to those coming to the study of online methods from some other disciplinary starting point.


Burgess, J., & Bruns, A. (2012). Twitter Archives and the Challenges of “Big Social Data” for Media and Communication Research. M/C Journal, 15(5).

Cantijoch, M., Gibson, R., & Ward, S. (2014). Analysing Social Media Data and Web Networks. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Ess, C. (2013). Digital Media Ethics (Second ed.). Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hargittai, E., & Litt, E. (2012). Becoming a Tweep. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 680-702.

Karlsson, M., & Strömbäck, J. (2010). FREEZING THE FLOW OF ONLINE NEWS — Exploring approaches to the study of the liquidity of online news. Journalism Studies, 11(1), 2 – 19.

Larsson, A. O. (2015). Studying Big Data – ethical and methodological considerations. In H. Fossheim & H. Ingierd (Eds.), Internet research ethics. Oslo: Cappelen Damm Akademisk.

McMillan, S. J. (2000). The Microscope and the Moving Target: The Challenge of Applying Content Analysis to the World Wide Web. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 77(1), 80-98.

Moe, H., & Larsson, A. O. (2012). Methodological and Ethical Challenges Associated with Large-scale Analyses of Online Political Communication. Nordicom Review, 33(1), 117-124.

Rieder, B. (2015). the end of Netvizz (?). Retrieved from

Vargo, C. J., Guo, L., McCombs, M., & Shaw, D. L. (2014). Network Issue Agendas on Twitter During the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. Journal of Communication, 64(2), 296-316.

Zimmer, M., & Proferes, N. (2014). A Topology of Twitter Research: Disciplines, Methods, and Ethics. Aslib Proceedings.

Internet Research Ethics

Internet Research Ethics - book cover

I am very happy to see the Internet Research Ethics books in print – as well as freely available in a variety of digital formats. I am even more happy to have contributed to this excellent volume (if I may say so myself), which details some of the current challenges with regards to – you guessed it – ethics that researchers interested in the Internet frequently have to deal with. In my chapter, I approach these issues based on my own experience with “big data”-type research, discussing methodological challenges in tandem with those of the ethical variety. To be a bit more specific, I argue for what could be labeled as a hashtag-based approach to data collection on Twitter. Briefly put, by focusing only on tweets that contain specific thematic keywords, we can be quite certain that the senders involved intended for their tweets to be visible in a certain context – of interest to researchers. Of course, while such an approach might be considered as ethically sound, it also means that any twitter activity of relevance not including the hashtag under study would not be included. This is of course problematic, especially in an international perspective, where ethical recommendations are often more relaxed – essentially meaning that researchers in many countries have broader opportunities for procuring full samples of social media traffic.

Editorial introduction in The Journal of Media Innovations

The latest issue of The Journal of Media Innovations is now live, hot off the digital press. This is the largest issue published by the Journal so far – with seven full papers, two research briefs and two book reviews, covering a wide array of issues all related to the overarching topic of innovative practices related to the media (industry), there’s bound to be something for interested researcher and practitioners here. Moreover, the issue features an editorial introduction penned by yours truly. Essentially, then, this introduction features summaries of the featured articles and briefs. I also briefly discuss the common themes and topics raised. As such, it could be a suitable starting point for those of you who might be looking for an overview of what’s going on in the current issue. Of course, chances are you’ll jump straight to one of the articles instead. Anyway, on behalf of myself and the rest of the editorial team at The Journal of Media Innovations, we hope you enjoy the featured articles. And hey, it’s free. Check it out, and consider to submit your own work!

… On a personal note, a big thank you to Charles Ess for allowing me to play a large part in the culling together of this issue. Also, thanks to Anders Fagerjord for putting together the nice article template. Hope you like the looks of the Journal as well!

Review of “Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice” by Nick Couldry

I was asked to review Nick Couldry’s Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice for European Journal of Communication (published in volume 30, issue 3). Below you will find the pre-print version (also available at and ResearchGate).

— — —

The broader field of media and communication studies incorporates a vast array of theoretical perspectives that have been and still are applied to further our understanding of what the media are, how they function and what results (or even ‘effects’ – if there ever was a value-laden word within the field, this is it) our everyday interactions with and through media could be expected to have. Undergraduates are – or at least I was – brought up learning the early history of the field as an almost steady march from “All-powerful media”, understood theoretically through metaphors of ‘hypodermic needles’ or magic bullets’, to latter periods where such power was vested in the recipients of media content – power to the people, if you will. Theories like Uses and Gratifications, for example, suggested that the preferences and goal orientations of individual media consumers would lead them to specific media content, rather than consuming any content that came into their path (e.g. Blumler and Katz, 1974).

In his book Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice, Nick Couldry embarks and expands on a somewhat similar approach. Specifically, Couldry makes the case for what he labels as a ‘practice approach’ to media and communication studies. He notes that while the aforementioned Uses and Gratifications perspective largely focused on individual, personal uses of specific media content in specific media channels, these diverse media channels or outlets have today become interlocked to the point where the only suitable starting point for an endeavor such as this would be ‘the media environment’, not specific media considered in isolation from each other. Similarly, while individual use is still of the utmost relevance for Couldry, he suggests an approach more akin to a macro level rather than the micro variety often focused on in combination with the Uses and Gratifications approach. Essentially, then, the practice approach, or media practice theory, suggests a focus on questions like “what are people doing that is related to the media?” (Couldry, 2012:35). Couldry does an excellent job at contextualizing what could perhaps be understood as a re-conceptualization of audience studies by suggesting that practice theory be understood as socially oriented media theory – one of four overarching perspectives of media and communication research (the other four being the political economy of media, medium theory and textual analysis). These four are outlined in a helpful graph included at the beginning of the book, which provides a suitable point of entry into Couldry’s thinking and suggestions about the larger areas of the field.

The suggested practice approach is arguably the key contribution of Couldry’s ambitious and meticulously researched text. Throughout the book, the author draws extensively on scholarship from a series of different academic traditions – most notably sociology and media and communication studies – to build his case. The concept of media practice wishes to uncover the ways in which people integrate media into their everyday lives in almost tacit, implicit ways – in order to meet our many diverse human needs. For Couldry, the media are (almost) everywhere, a line of thought that – with some obvious variation – has been touched upon recently also by others (e.g. Deuze, 2012). However, Couldry also makes his case by providing a series of theories more applicable with regards to empirical research, thereby making the book an even more interesting read. Given the authors interest in the humdrum of everyday life in relation to media use, I was nevertheless somewhat surprised to find very little reference to the work of scholars related to the Birmingham school – such as Stuart Hall, Richard Hoggart or Raymond Williams. Given their interest in the role of media institutions within complex issues like these, their perspectives could have strengthened Couldry’s case even further. Moreover, given my own personal research interests, I particularly enjoyed what I perceived as a tastefully critical stance from Couldry with regards to the consequences often thought to follow from whatever media format or channel is the ‘newest’ one at the present time. As one of many examples dealt with in the text, the author shows how despite much of the hype surrounding new opportunities for media consumption, the influence of television will most likely remain large for the foreseeable future, while the machine itself – the television – might converge beyond recognition.

While I agree that the practice approach championed in Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice seems like a suitable way forward for research into the uses of media, I would argue that the need for more technically informed research is also a clear and present one. This is in some way touched upon by Couldry in the aforementioned model he uses to contextualize his theorizing, but we might want to take the actions made available by new media – their affordances, if you will (e.g. Gibson, 1977; Leonardi, 2011) – into clearer account. While novel technologies often carry with them the potential to change user practices or even overarching structures of use or “produsage” (Bruns, 2008) in relation to the media, empirical research from a number of different contexts has proven that most uses are of the more traditional variety. With this in mind, while Couldry’s admittedly elegant focus on the overarching level seems suitable, I worry that such an approach might miss out on some elusive detail that emerges in relation to whatever media format, service or platform is ‘all the rage’ this month. Such a more artifact-oriented view, detailing what is technically possible or not, is perhaps better understood as the topic of another book.


Blumler J.G. & Katz, E. (1974). The uses of mass communications: Current perspectives on gratifications research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Bruns, Axel (2008). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond. From Production to Produsage. Peter Lang.

Couldry, N. (2012). Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity.

Deuze, M. (2012). Media Life. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity.

Gibson, J. J. (1977). The theory of affordances. In R. Shaw & J. Bransford (Eds.), Perceiving, acting, and knowing: Toward an ecological psychology (pp. 67–82). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Leonardi, P. M. (2011). When flexible routines meet flexible technologies: Affordance, constraint, and the imbrication of human and material agencies. MIS Quarterly, 35(1), 147–167

Most-Read Article at European Journal of Communication


I’m happy to report that the article “‘Of course we are on Facebook’: Use and non-use of social media among Swedish and Norwegian politicians” was apparently the most-read article from the European Journal of Communication during January 2015. The article, which I co-authored with Bente Kalsnes, deals with adoption and use rates of social media by Swedish and Norwegian politicians. The abstract is available below:

While plenty of research has provided important insights into the uses of the Internet by politicians during elections, a relatively scarce amount of work has looked into these uses outside of such parliamentary events. This article seeks to remedy this lack of research by presenting a study on the ‘routine’ uses of two of the currently most popular social media services – Facebook and Twitter. Focusing on politicians elected to the national parliaments of Norway and Sweden, the article employs novel methodologies for data collection and statistical analyses in order to provide an overarching, structural view of the day-to-day social media practices of Scandinavian politicians. Findings indicate that use levels are rather low for both services – the median amount of tweets sent and messages posted on Facebook is close to one per day. Further analyses reveal that the most active politicians could be labelled as ‘underdogs’, as they are more likely to be younger, in opposition and out of the political limelight.

By means of funding provided by my department, we’ve been able to make the paper available for everyone – also for those interested who might happen to reside outside of paywalls, the proprietors of which make Rupert Murdoch look like a socialist.

Going Viral? Comparing Parties on Social Media During the 2014 Swedish Election


The first of what I hope will be a series of publications dealing with various social media activities during the 2014 Swedish elections has been accepted for publication in Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media TechnologiesThe paper, titled “Going Viral? Comparing Parties on Social Media During the 2014 Swedish Election”, makes a case for comparing the oft-studied Twitter platform with the more seldom studied Facebook variety in this regard. You can find the accepted pre-print version on or ResearchGate. Moreover, thanks to my department, the paper will be made available open access through the SAGE Choice program. The abstract is inserted below:

While research has provided useful insights into political party use of Twitter, comparably few efforts have focused on the arguably more popular Facebook service. This paper takes both platforms into account, detailing similar functionalities and providing analyses of the social media activities undertaken by Swedish political parties during the 2014 elections. Moreover, the types of feedback received by the parties on these platforms are gauged. Findings suggest that while sizeable parties are not necessarily the most ardent at using social media, they do receive the most attention. In essence, then, party size matters – however, the role of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats is clearly felt throughout, suggesting the apparent prowess of controversial parties in the online context.

Employing such a comparative approach brings with it a series of challenges – how to present activities undertaken by the parties in a way that makes it easy (or at least relatively easy) to assess both services? Employing my previously discussed suggestions on how to compare Twitter and Facebook, I used the model previously suggested in a more empirical sense. Using the Tableau application, I graphed the types of feedback received by the parties in two graph, one for each service. As an example, the graph depicting Facebook activity is included below, together with an excerpt from the paper itself. The remainder of the analysis is of course available in the paper itself.


Figure Three. Average feedback received per post on Facebook. Horizontal axis indicates M of Comments/post; Vertical line indicates M of Shares/Post; Node size and label indicate M of Likes/Post.

The results presented in Figure Three suggest a linear tendency among the represented parties – meaning here that as the average statistic for the redistributive type of feedback for Facebook (shares) increase, so does also that same statistic for interactive feedback (comments). Given the sizes of the nodes and their corresponding labels, this tendency of increasing averages as we move diagonally from the downward left corner to the upward right can be discerned also here. Indeed, correlation analyses using Spearman’s Rho proved correlations between all three involved variables to be significant (p =<.000 for all correlations) and comparably strong with Rho varying between .779 and .871 for all correlations. With this in mind, it would appear that while the Social Democrats – marked as ‘S’ in the Figure – only amassed the fourth highest amount of ‘Facebook fans’ on the service at hand (see Table One), these fans appear to have put in quite an effort to make the specified account visible. This seems especially true in terms of Shares (M = 547, Std. dev. = 442) and Likes (M = 6162, Std. dev. = 5128), where high standard deviations nevertheless suggest a considerable spread around the reported means. Similar claims appear as valid for the average number of comments received (M = 368, Std. dev = 323). Focusing on the content provided through the account, the most Liked (N of Likes = 28810) post offered by the Social Democrats is coincidentally also the most commented (N of Comments = 2361). This post, penned late election night, features party leader Stefan Löfven giving thanks to party supporters and staffers after the party had been declared victorious . The most shared content from the Social Democratic account is posted on August 27th – the very same day that advance voting possibilities opened for the upcoming election. Consequently, this post urges supporters to vote in advance and to share the post itself in order to spread the message about this possibility . This tendency of popularity of posts that encourage supporters to vote and to share this encouragement using the redistributive functionality of Facebook is visible also for other parties, such as the Conservatives (M) and the Environmental Party (Mp), although not for the other stand-out party as visible in Figure Three – the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats. Here, the most shared as well as the most commented post is offered on September 4th and features sneak premiere of an election commercial to be broadcast on Swedish commercial television the following day . Their most successful post in terms of Likes (N of Likes = 9648) was made available on August 20th and deals with the controversy started when the party wanted to place their admittedly polarizing political advertisements on Stockholm public transport buses .