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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 15 - 2008, No. 2

Analysing online political discussions: Methodological considerations

, , pages: 37 - 56

Online political discussions are thought to lead to more political engagement and empowerment of peripheral groups in society and thereby contributing to deliberative citizenship. Because people have increased opportunities to voice their political opinions and publish these for a potentially large audience to read, the involved level of interactivity can mobilise people who would otherwise not have been in political life. Since Web 2.0 applications (i.e. blogs, social networking sites) have become popular, online discussions have taken a great fl ight on the web. This article discusses the advantages and diffi culties of studying online discussions applying a mixed method approach of content analysis, social network analysis and longitudinal analysis. The additional value of using a combination of research methods simultaneously is that it does justice to the complex object of study because a more in-depth and triangulated measurement of political communications can be established. The methodological implications will be illustrated on data from the online political discussion group, nl.politiek, one of the most active discussion groups during the Dutch national elections in 2006.

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