A comparative analysis of political email lists
Source TitleProceedings, Australian Electronic Governance Conference 2004
PublisherCentre for Public Policy
University of Melbourne Author/sCHEN, PETER
AffiliationArts: Education Policy and Management
Arts: Centre for Public Policy
Document TypeConference Paper
CitationsChen, P. (2004). A comparative analysis of political email lists. In, Proceedings, Australian Electronic Governance Conference 2004, University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Utilising three similar, but slightly different Australian general political email discussion lists, this paper examines the degree to which these lists, as a new form of 'public sphere' (Dahlberg, 2001) can be seen to undertake, or fulfil, the 'traditional' functions of political associations (formal and informal),specifically: political socalisation, aggregation, and mobilisation. Using a combination of content analysis, observation, and network analysis to examine the content of messages travelling over these lists and the social community they embody, this paper concludes that these lists do fulfil important political socialisation functions, but do not provide the means by which political interlocutors can turn this social bonding and education into practical political expression. While each list had significant similarities, it appears that important "bracing" factors lead to the success or otherwise of lists as lively places for debate. In particular, the role of moderation and promotion is critical in the establishment of political discussion lists that develop enough 'critical mass' to sustain a community of interest large enough to appear self-replicating. The research points to the important relationship between online political forms of expression and extant political organisations, structures, and institutions for further research.
KeywordsInternet; politics; email; lists; social networking
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