I just received word that my follow-up study to Picture-perfect populism: Tracing the rise of European populist parties on Facebook has been accepted for publication in New Media & Society. In this recently accepted paper – entitled The rise of Instagram as a tool for political communication – A longitudinal study of European political parties and their followers – I build on the findings of the aforementioned Facebook-focused paper and provide insights into the uses of Instagram by European political parties. The abstract reads as follows:
“Featuring a longitudinal, structural study of European party and citizen activity on Instagram between 2012 and 2018, this paper outlines the overarching changes in the ways that Instagram has been employed for political party communication. Differentiating between populist and non-populist political parties, the results indicate that much like for other platforms such as Facebook, the former category of parties enjoy higher amounts of citizen engagement than their non-populist competitors. Detailing the uses of different types of posts by the two types of political actors, the study provides insights into how political parties have adopted and used Instagram from 2012 and onwards.”
Much like with the previous paper, I make good use of the brilliant Wes Anderson Palettes package available for R – see if you can guess which movie palette I used here. If you are interested, you can find the accepted version of the paper at academia.edu or at ResearchGate. Having studied the growth of populism on both Facebook and Instagram, I guess I need to look at Twitter next?
Much like everything else these days, the 2021 NordMedia Conference which was supposed to take place in Reykjavik has decided to go virtual. Which means that this year, I will be virtually involved in three presentations:
Askanius, T., Kaun, A., Brock, M. & Larsson, A.O. (2021). Violent misogyny in ‘the most feminist country in the world’: Discursive connections between male supremacy and white supremacy in Sweden.
Kalsnes, B. & Larsson, A.O. (2021). Going local on social media: Norwegian parliamentarians’ use of social media during the 2019 local election.
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 academia.edu 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.
A paper I co-authored with Øyvind Ihlen and Ketil Raknes was recently awarded the best paper award during the 2019 EUPRERA conference. Here’s what the jury had to say about our paper, entitled “The democratic success of Twitter as a lobbying tool”:
The paper discusses the contribution of Twitter to democratic goals of engagement and debate by asking “What type of interest groups and organizations succeed in having members of parliament react on (retweet) their Twitter messages?”. To answer this question, the authors analyzed the extent to which Norwegian politicians retweet messages from interest groups and lobbyists during normal parliamentary activity. Despite the touted democratic potential of Twitter, the researchers find that it is the powerful groups and organizations that get heard more by politicians, also on Twitter. The paper is excellently written with solid links to the relevant literature and sound methodology.
I’ve spent the last couple of days at the university of Urbino, hosted by Fabio Giglietto as part of an ERASMUS teacher exchange between Westerdals Oslo ACT and the department of communication studies at the aforementioned university. Urbino proved to be a lovely little town – about 15 000 inhabitants live there, to which one has to add about the same amount of students, who mostly commute from out of town. While in Urbino, I held a few lectures and seminars on the undergraduate as well as graduate level, discussing (among other things) the consequences of personalized content on the Instagram pages of political leaders. Please refer to the picture of me in action available above (thanks to Giovanni Boccia Artieri, who tweeted the picture).
At the end of the 2013 spring semester I was fortunate enough to be presented with not one, but two awards for my PhD thesis. First, the Börje Langefors Award (site in Swedish) for best Swedish thesis in Informatics defended during 2012. Apparently, the jury haven’t gotten round to updating the site with this year’s winner yet, but someone (not me, I swear) has provided Wikipedia with the correct details. The Wikipedia entry also features a nice translation of the motivation for me getting the award, which reads as follows:
The thesis is based on a socially relevant contemporary topic, well-designed and well-defined subject area with contrasting perspectives based on exceptional and interesting empirical material. The thesis is easy to read and well structured with well linked articles. It has a very good international exposure.
A well-written, well-structured and advanced thesis making valuable theoretical and methodological contributions within a topical and important area – especially in the study of Twitter, and utilizing Gidden’s theories. Larsson has contributed with important knowledge to the research area of new and social media in relation to politicians and audiences, thereby making an important contribution to the international field of media and communication studies.
Obviously, I feel very proud and honored to have received recognition from the two disciplines that I consider my two academic homes. Drawing on methods, perspectives and ways of thinking from both traditions have proven extremely fruitful for me so far, and I hope to be able to continue to do so in my future efforts.
On may 16th, I (successfully) defended my PhD thesis. The picture above was taken just afterwards, as I was presented with lovely gifts from friends and family. It’s been an intense couple of weeks after the big day: on may 22 I left for ICA in Phoenix, Arizona. Now, focus is on wrapping up things here in Uppsala. In a couple of weeks, we’ll be moving to Oslo, Norway, where I’ll be guest researcher at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo.