Weapon of the Weak? The Social Media Landscape of Interest Groups

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Social media have the potential to offset existing inequalities in representation among interest groups and act as a ‘weapon of the weak’ by providing a technological infrastructure that allows even groups with limited resources to create content and interact across the globe. We expand on the sparse existing literature on interest groups and social media in a quantitative, structural
analysis of both the range and volume of social media use examining a data set of groups active in European Union lobbying. Despite the positive expectations, we find limited evidence that social media have been able to reinvigorate democratic processes by changing inequalities in the landscape of political representation among interest groups. The level of resources held by
the interest groups acts as the single most consistent predictor of both the range and volume of their social media use. Interest groups representing citizen and worker interests do play a leading role in explaining the volume of social media use, but the landscape is dominated by large interest groups with an international scope rather than by small, national ones. Moreover, firms
also use a broad range of different social media platforms even if they lose ground to traditional membership groups when the actual volume of Twitter and Facebook use is assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalEuropean Journal of Communication
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)120-135
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - social media, international communication, Internet, political communication, Public Sphere

ID: 137755343