The Institutional Anchoring of Social Media Venues as Arenas for Local Political Communication. Perceptions by Voters and Politicians
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The article explores social media as institutions for political communication between voters and politicians. While observers have focused on the political use of social media when exploring their democratic potential, little is known about the users’ perceptions of these media. But as institutions are more than just behavior – they are also about formal as well as informal rules, norms and understandings – these perceptions could well be important to understanding the institutional anchoring of social media as arenas for political communication. In exploring the institutional anchoring of social media the article asks whether politicians and voters view the social media in a similar way, and how far they consider social media as an apt arena for political communication. Within a Norwegian context, which may prove useful as a critical case, and using the perspective of rational choice institutionalism, the analysis show that although in the overall picture voters’ and politicians’ opinions are not that dissimilar, politicians are more likely to recognize the political communicative role of social media. However, social media have indeed the potential to become arenas for political mobilization among groups that traditionally are less visible in political arenas. That is to say, social media might become important institutions for political communication.