Introducing VIPARSYS (Comparing Virtual Party Systems): Exploring what hyperlinks tell us about virtual party networks

TitleIntroducing VIPARSYS (Comparing Virtual Party Systems): Exploring what hyperlinks tell us about virtual party networks
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Rosas, A. J., D. G. Lilleker, K. Koc-Michalska, and J. Caetano
Affiliation (1st Author)Universidade Aberta, Portugal CAPP - Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal
Section or WGPolitical Communication Research Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodePOLF1b
Slot Code (Keyword)POLF1b
Time of Session9:00-10:30
RoomHG18
Session TitleCommunication effects and voter behavior in a new media landscape
Submission ID4713
Abstract

As the Internet and Internet enabled technologies are used ever more frequently by political parties to communicate with publics and constituencies, or to establish new networks with other parties and organizations, studying their hyperlink behavior, together with the messages they publicize online, is becoming one of the most important tasks for political communication in the current era of hybrid communications within an interconnected and networked ecosystem (Chadwick 2012).In this paper, the authors will introduce a new international project (VIPARSYS) that is aimed at comparing, as an initial step, the patterns of hyperlinked networking that are evidenced within four European virtual party systems: France, Portugal, Poland and the UK. In particular, the research project will be designed to identify and characterize the online behavior of the main political parties within each country in order to map national virtual party systems, thus developing outputs that will demonstrate how hyperlinks analysis can reveal new insights about political parties, how they operate in the cyberspace, with whom they associate online and are in turn connected with, and how the content of their messages can further reveal national and cross-country structural attributes. Both the project and our paper will build on previous methods and analysis especially the pioneering works of Ackland and Gibson (2005), who compared European right-wing parties in terms of scope, content and visibility. However we aim to offer fresh insights on virtual party systems across more dimensions and variables. Web mining, social network analysis applied to hyperlinks (link analysis), statistical and quantitative techniques and content analysis will be used as research methods, although in a reflexive way, as provisional and final results will be thoroughly questioned and alternative theoretical and empirical approaches will be used both for individual and comparative assessments. The authors intend to present the work from this four nation pilot project in order to build an international network of scholars interested in developing and enriching VIPARSYS’ concepts, methods and objectives.

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