Since Maastricht onwards, political conflicts concerning European integration have intensified, mobilizing a wide range of actors in a global process of politicization of the EU. The ‘politicization’ of European integration, which until a decade ago was seen as conspicuously absent, is thus now widely recognized: the EU is increasingly addressed by political parties, is a key concern for voters, and often the lead news item across the region. As current events suggest, the European Union is increasingly subject to regular critiques of its policy choices but also to more principled forms of opposition, which question not only its institutional and constitutional architecture but even its rationale of existence. Understanding the mechanisms behind such a process of politicization, its manifestations and consequences has thus become a crucial research topic for political scientists. How do political actors conceive the basic alternatives? Can debates over European integration, despite their complexity, be reduced to a relatively small number of dimensions? Is there a substantial difference between citizens and political elites? How is contestation over European integration related to the left-right cleavage, which has characterized political life in Western Europe over the past century or more? With our work we contribute to the literature on EU politicization in national arenas by proposing an innovative design to study EU politicization by analysing Twitter big data, presented through an in-depth case study on the 2015 and 2016 Spanish general elections. The aim of our work is accordingly threefold. Firstly, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the type, directionality and intensity of conflicts over European integration in present times in Spain, both at the level of political elite and at that of mass public. Secondly, it empirically verifies the assumptions and findings of the literature on the EU politicization in relation to the case under scrutiny. Thirdly, it introduces an innovative method for the study of issue politicization on Twitter-based communication that combines NLP technology, network analysis and qualitative content analysis. On the one hand, by using a combination of human coding and machine learning, we are able to separately analyze the three main components of EU politicization: salience, conflict, and expansion to the public. On the other hand, hence critical tweets are identified, the analysis of their textual content and networked structure allows us to identify the specific issues around which contestation towards European integration is rooted, thus allowing us to unpack the reasons which have fostered and are still driving the mobilization of a wide range of actors. From a public sphere perspective, EU-politicization and democratization are interlinked in a way that public contestations pose a challenge to executive decision-making, raise democratic standards and trigger processes of public opinion formation. By answering our RQs we will thus be able not only to analyse the content of the electoral debate and its matching with our theoretical expectations, but also to contribute to the study of the European(ized) public sphere.

CONTESTING EUROPE ON TWITTER. SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE POLITICIZATION OF 'EUROPE' DURING THE SPANISH ELECTIONS, 2015 AND 2016 / F. Arcostanzo ; supervisor: M. Ferrera. - : . DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE SOCIALI E POLITICHE, 2017 Jul 20. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/arcostanzo-francesca_phd2017-07-20].

CONTESTING EUROPE ON TWITTER. SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE POLITICIZATION OF 'EUROPE' DURING THE SPANISH ELECTIONS, 2015 AND 2016

F. Arcostanzo
2017

Abstract

Since Maastricht onwards, political conflicts concerning European integration have intensified, mobilizing a wide range of actors in a global process of politicization of the EU. The ‘politicization’ of European integration, which until a decade ago was seen as conspicuously absent, is thus now widely recognized: the EU is increasingly addressed by political parties, is a key concern for voters, and often the lead news item across the region. As current events suggest, the European Union is increasingly subject to regular critiques of its policy choices but also to more principled forms of opposition, which question not only its institutional and constitutional architecture but even its rationale of existence. Understanding the mechanisms behind such a process of politicization, its manifestations and consequences has thus become a crucial research topic for political scientists. How do political actors conceive the basic alternatives? Can debates over European integration, despite their complexity, be reduced to a relatively small number of dimensions? Is there a substantial difference between citizens and political elites? How is contestation over European integration related to the left-right cleavage, which has characterized political life in Western Europe over the past century or more? With our work we contribute to the literature on EU politicization in national arenas by proposing an innovative design to study EU politicization by analysing Twitter big data, presented through an in-depth case study on the 2015 and 2016 Spanish general elections. The aim of our work is accordingly threefold. Firstly, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the type, directionality and intensity of conflicts over European integration in present times in Spain, both at the level of political elite and at that of mass public. Secondly, it empirically verifies the assumptions and findings of the literature on the EU politicization in relation to the case under scrutiny. Thirdly, it introduces an innovative method for the study of issue politicization on Twitter-based communication that combines NLP technology, network analysis and qualitative content analysis. On the one hand, by using a combination of human coding and machine learning, we are able to separately analyze the three main components of EU politicization: salience, conflict, and expansion to the public. On the other hand, hence critical tweets are identified, the analysis of their textual content and networked structure allows us to identify the specific issues around which contestation towards European integration is rooted, thus allowing us to unpack the reasons which have fostered and are still driving the mobilization of a wide range of actors. From a public sphere perspective, EU-politicization and democratization are interlinked in a way that public contestations pose a challenge to executive decision-making, raise democratic standards and trigger processes of public opinion formation. By answering our RQs we will thus be able not only to analyse the content of the electoral debate and its matching with our theoretical expectations, but also to contribute to the study of the European(ized) public sphere.
FERRERA, MAURIZIO
FERRERA, MAURIZIO
European Integration; Politicization; Twitter; Machine Learning; Network Analysis; Spain; Elections
Settore SPS/04 - Scienza Politica
CONTESTING EUROPE ON TWITTER. SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE POLITICIZATION OF 'EUROPE' DURING THE SPANISH ELECTIONS, 2015 AND 2016 / F. Arcostanzo ; supervisor: M. Ferrera. - : . DIPARTIMENTO DI SCIENZE SOCIALI E POLITICHE, 2017 Jul 20. ((29. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2016. [10.13130/arcostanzo-francesca_phd2017-07-20].
Doctoral Thesis
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/519418
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