UNI SP4 Study Period 4 2014

NET102 Tony Abbott is My Facebook Friend

Internet Studies 102 : The Internet and Everyday Life
Topic 1.6: Politics: Tony Abbott is My Facebook Friend

As with other aspects of the everyday, politics runs through people’s conversations, shapes their relationships with each other, and expresses their connection with those who govern (or hope to govern) on their behalf. The impact of the Internet upon the political sphere has been monitored closely by analysts with different interests. In more recent times, we have witnessed in the increased use of the Internet for political campaigns as well as governance; increasingly, the Internet has become a vital part of the political process.

There are a couple of interconnected areas of concern with regard to politics and online communication: the day to day administration and exchange of information and decisions between organs of government and the citizenry (“e-governance”), and the facilitation of democratic processes (“e-democracy”). Our interest is primarily in two things. One is the degree to which people’s political engagement and participation is affected by Internet communication. The other aspect is the role played by the Internet in assisting (and otherwise) the democratic process: from determining the main social issues and questions of the day, selecting and pooling the information and views needed to weigh up options, and, finally, reach agreement.

What you need to do to learn about this topic:


Nagourney, Adam. (2009). The ‘08 Campaign: Sea Change for Politics as We Know It. New York Times. 19 January. This journalistic article reports upon the adoption of web 2.0 applications in political campaigning in the US: what do you think of the shifts described?


Navigate around and discuss two of the following sites in terms of the kinds of involvement they encourage.

http://www.pm.gov.au http://www.liberal.org.au http://www.alp.org.au http://greens.org.au www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au www.getup.org.au


Discuss with your fellow students in class: does the Internet encourage democracy and political participation? Why/why not?


If you choose this topic for the essay, in addition to the above, you will also need to read:

Coombs, A. (2009). How cyberactivism changed the world. Griffith Review. 24. This article examines the GetUp! campaign. What do you think about the possibilities and limitations of mobilising and organising for political change via the Internet, in the context of grassroots campaigning in particular?

Flew, Terry. (2008). Not Yet the Internet Election: Online Media, Political Commentary and the 2007 Australian Federal Election. Media International Australia. pp 5-13. In E-Reserve or http://eprints.qut.edu.au/39366/1/c39366.pdf How far do you agree with the author’s claim: communication in politics and news journalism are becoming more diffused and power less focused on ‘big media,’ but the political institutions in Australia are not only lagging behind the changes in media, but becoming more centred on the Labour and Liberal parties?

Marichal, J. (2013). Political Facebook Groups: Micro-activism and the digital front stage. First Monday, 18(12). http://ojphi.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4653/3800

Gonzalez-Bailon, S. (2013). Online social networks and bottom-up politics. Forthcoming in Dutton, W.H. and Graham, M. (eds) Society and the Internet: How Information and Social Networks are Changing our Lives, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available through the library e-reserve.

Each of these six topics covered in Module 1 has a particular question for the Questions and Answers assignment, you will need to complete these questions and then submit the best three of them as part of your assignment. You may also choose this topic for your essay. Your participation in discussions and activities for this, and the other topics, contribute towards the body of work that you will select from for the Portfolio. Also, review the material in this topic for your final assignment, particularly paying attention to the role played by the Internet in terms of economics, power, identity, community, time and space (Module 2).

NEXT: Essay Writing and Perspective »