New Zealand politicians’ use of social media applications: A political social capital perspective

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Authors
O'Neill, Bonnie
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Degree
Master of International Communication
Grantor
Unitec Institute of Technology
Date
2010
Supervisors
Thompson, Peter
Mason, Edgar
Type
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Keyword
social media
New Zealand politicians
political social capital
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Citation
O'Neill, B. (2010). New Zealand politicians’ use of social media applications: A political social capital perspective. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of International Communication, Unitec New Zealand.
Abstract
RESEARCH QUESTION: To what extent do New Zealand Members of Parliament use social media applications for the cultivation of political social capital? The aim of this thesis is to find out the extent to which New Zealand Members of Parliament use social media applications for the cultivation of political social capital (PSC). Developed by this researcher from some of the key authors in the field of social capital, PSC describes the social action activated through a network of relationships, using strong and weak ties and the actions of bridging and bonding, for the attainment of political gain. The following investigation therefore uses this theory to understand how and/or if New Zealand Members of Parliament see social media applications as platforms that enable them to leverage their strong and weak network ties for the purpose of advancing their political endeavours, and cultivating PSC for themselves and as a consequence, their affiliated parties. 28 MPs responded to the survey and four key communication personnel were interviewed. Analysis of the data found evidence that 78.68% of NZ MPs use at least one form of social media for their political communication purposes. Facebook and blogging have shown to be the most widely used new media platforms, with responses suggesting that PSC is intended to be cultivated in the forms of, for example further youth engagement and more voter support. The implications of the results of this analysis are discussed, along with limitations of the study and directions for future inquiry.
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