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Connectivity in Action: Activist Comments as Evidence of a Pan-European Public Sphere on Social Media. A Case Study of the European Commission’s Instagram Page

Author

  • Theodora Cristina Canciu

Summary, in English

The features of social media platforms not only enable the communication between citizens and political actors or institutions, in the form of comments, but also help in magnifying citizens’ voices and opinions and facilitating mass mobilization or political protests. The European Union institutions seem to understand the capacity of social media as a locus for citizen engagement, be it activism or deliberation, and have thus developed a strong presence across platforms.
The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate citizens’ interaction on the European Commission (EC)’s Instagram page. In particular, this case study analyzes comments as a form of digital engagement and asks about the nature of this engagement (activist or deliberative content), as well as about the aims and main concerns discussed by these commenters. In addition, the thesis is looking at the role of social media in building and maintaining a European identity and investigates whether the activist comments display any signs of a Europeanized public sphere.
Considering the interdisciplinary scope of the paper, traditional methods within humanities and social sciences were combined. The content of the dataset collected manually from the EC’s Instagram page, over three months—July 1 to September 30, 2020—was quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. The findings of the research present the European Commission’s Instagram page as a locus for activism in which citizens support different issues. Some are national—Polish citizens fighting for LGBTIQ+ rights, some are European—discussion on EU policies and areas of action, and even others are global—the case of unmarried binational couples which are restricted from reuniting due to the inexistence of an appropriate exception. Moreover, the analysis demonstrates that citizen-activists are the product of European integration; they choose to voice their opinions on the pan-European space provided by the social media platform. In this sense, they enact their European identity by expressing themselves politically in a transnational digital space offered by Instagram.

Department/s

Publishing year

2021

Language

English

Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)

Topic

  • Social Sciences

Keywords

  • Activism
  • Cyberactivism
  • European identity
  • European public sphere
  • Social media
  • Europeanization
  • European Commission
  • Instagram
  • politics
  • engagement
  • comments
  • citizens

Supervisor

  • Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (Biträdande Lektor)