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dc.contributor.advisorBendall, Mark
dc.contributor.advisorHarris, Phil
dc.contributor.authorRobertson, Christopher
dc.identifier.citationRobertson, C. (2022). Anti-austerity politics and social media in the UK: political participation and non-traditional political organisations [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis thesis examines how UK anti-austerity communities on Twitter have contributed to politics. The ‘age of austerity’ has embroiled much of the UK for over 10 years with little deviation from anti-austerity policies in governments occurring. It could be questioned what is the purpose of anti-austerity communities? Political researchers (e.g., Craddock, 2017, 2019, Harrison, 2020, 2021) have questioned ‘what is the point of anti-austerity activism on-the-ground’ and others have regularly attributed digital participation to pejoratively termed ‘slacktivism’ (Christensen, 2011, 2012, Rickett, 2013, Bendell, 2021). This thesis shifts attention to how anti-austerity communities communicate online and how digital publics receive and interpret these alternative messages. By constructing an original model entitled the ‘sixth-estate’, it is argued that anti-austerity communities online are chosen to be engaged with due to their provision of (1) an alternative perspective to mainstream agendas; (2), a desirable single-issue focus on subjectively salient issues; (3), the amplification of traditionally marginalised discourses and (4), they can affect political efficacy and foster political competence. The creation of this model is substantiated by data collected from a mixed-methods online survey and social network analysis conducted utilising the software NodeXL. The survey provided in-depth qualitative understanding as to why digital publics chose to engage with and consume information from digital anti-austerity communities. This was corroborated by social network analysis, where a semi-longitudinal quantitative dataset observed anti-austerity discourses to recognise how anti-austerity conversations were brokered, led, and what their purpose was. The social network analysis also featured a qualitative component, where applied thematic content analysis, mirroring the survey, was employed to unearth meaning within anti-austerity discourses and generate noticeable themes. In the period of study, these were (1) Twitter discourses contained a specific anti-austerity focus; (2) the presence of a pro-Corbyn, anti-Starmer agenda; (3), an evident anti-Tory sentiment; (4), explicit interconnection with COVID-19. This is underpinned by the theoretical framework of counterpublics (Fraser, 1990, Asen, 2000, Loehwing and Motter, 2009, Wonneberger, Hellsten and Jacobs, 2021). This is where political communities seek to contest dominant narratives and legitimise alternative discourses. Anti-austerity communities constitute visible counterpublics. This work contributed to knowledge on this area by recognising the subjective significance of anti-austerity communities and their democratically-significant contribution to UK politics.en_US
dc.publisherUniversity of Chesteren_US
dc.rightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International*
dc.subjectsocial mediaen_US
dc.titleAnti-austerity politics and social media in the UK: political participation and non-traditional political organisationsen_US
dc.typeThesis or dissertationen_US
dc.rights.embargoreasonRecommended 6 month embargoen_US
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