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Social Sciences

Media in Context and The 2015 General Election: How Traditional and Social Media Shape Elections

15 April 2015 - 14 October 2016

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Dan Stevens

CI/s in Exeter: Professor Susan Banducci, Dr Travis Coan, Professor Gabriel Katz

Funding awarded: £ 241,890

Sponsor(s): ESRC

About the research

Dan Stevens is leading a project monitoring media coverage of the 2015 General Election. The study,  Media in Context and The 2015 General Election: How Traditional and Social Media Shape Elections and Governing will gather and analyse the content of traditional—television, newspapers, radio—coverage of the election and its aftermath, as well as social media. The substantive questions will examine: The flow of campaign information. Traditional academic models depict campaign information flows as linear, from elites to opinion leaders to masses, but this may no longer be accurate in a world in which social media can provide a platform for opinion leaders (and masses) to produce information; whether the changing media landscape matters in a second way--not in terms of the flow of information but, more straightforwardly, for where if at all people obtain political information in a world of declining newspaper readership and trust in media. Moreover, the traditional media no longer play the same gatekeeping role, potentially diluting their influence on the issue agenda; The role of the media, both social and traditional, in the post-election period. Interpretations of election results may be important in two respects: in conferring legitimacy upon the outcome and thus fostering what is sometimes known as "losers' consent," and in providing a narrative about the mandate the incoming government enjoys. Using an innovative inferential framework we will develop a model that accounts for the amount, dynamics and interactive relationships of information provision during the campaign and post-election periods, i.e., what drives the issue attention cycle in traditional and social media during the contemporary campaign. The model we will develop incorporates social media in the flow of communication, and examines voters using the medium as consumers and producers of news. Finally, we will be releasing all the data in a timely fashion to the user community.