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Rethinking Media Spring

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Major Essay Questions

Students must write a 2000-word essay in response to one of the questions listed below.  

1.     How does the concept of ‘glocalization’ frame the relationship between globalizing forces and local agents within the global cultural economy? Illustrate your response with an example (or examples) from at least one nation.  

2.     How do global marketers appeal to the cultural preferences of consumers in developing regions or emerging economic hotspots? Illustrate your response with an example (or examples) from at least one nation.  

3.     How have notions of identity and citizenship changed over the last two decades? Illustrate your response with an example (or examples) from at least one nation.  

4.     Has the growth in social media expanded opportunities for political expression around the world? Illustrate your response with an example (or examples) from at least one nation.  

5.     How relevant is the work of Marshall McLuhan to the study of 21st century media? Base your response on analysis of at least one contemporary communications technology.  

6.     As a way to explain the distribution of power in contemporary media, is the discourse of political economy useful and valid? Base your response on an example (or examples) from at least one nation.  


Rethinking Media Spring


Institutional affiliation


Question 4

Has the growth in social media expanded opportunities for political expression around the world?

1.0 Introduction

Social media has played an essential role in pushing the agenda of public discourse and expression in contemporary society. The growth of social media has significantly altered how people integrate themselves with a group of individuals who share the same interests and ideas (Wasko, 2014, p.263).  Social media has brought about changes in various fields, most notably, in political communications, public relations, and so on. Presently, the importance of social media has been underlined in politics, considering the availability of social networking sites has positively influenced the level of political expression (Boulianne, 2009, p.529). For example, social online platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were extensively used in the 2008 USA presidential elections.

The significance of social media in political expression was further highlighted in the 2012 presidential campaign where both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama invested heavily in the use of social networking to reach the young generation. The growth in social media ensured that potential voters used the different platforms to post the content covered by the mainstream media, share videos and even the social media war between the two divides. According to Bond et al. (2012, p.295), social media represents a populated forum where politicians interact with their supporters and express their views concerning public affairs. To support this argument, various scholars have argued that the growth of social media has provided platforms for increased political expression (Boulianne, 2009, p.530).

2.0 Case example of the use of social media in politics

To answer the topical question, this paper will use the case of the 2013 Italian general elections to address how social media expanded the level of political expression. As of 2013, the usage of internet in Italy was low with only 58 percent of the general population having subscribed to social networking sites in the previous three months. Nonetheless, social media had grown to be part of the political expression in Italy. A study conducted by the Pew Survey in 2012, concluded that over 39 percent of the Italians were using different social networking sites to express their political views (Vaccarri et al., 2015, p.225). Between 2010 and 2012, the number of Italian subscribing to Twitter had risen to over 3 million in 2012 from under 1.5 million in 2010 per month.

To push their political agenda participants in the 2013 Italian general elections developed a social media presence with the mainstream media reporting on politicians social media activities and the reactions elicited. Vaccarri et al. (2015, p.225) opined that Facebook had over 23.2 million users in Italy; therefore, it was the most popular social network site in the information ecosystem as such it was widely used. The Five Star Movement attained unexpected success after achieving over 25 percent of the total votes cast. The movement was led by Beppe Grillo who was credited to have run the most popular social media presence during the electioneering period. This situation underlines the reliance of the party on the popularity of social media as it was used for communication and organization.

3.0 Social media and political expression

            The growing popularity of the utilization of social media in politics has been underlined by its continued use in the recent elections across the globe, most notably, among the young generation. The increase in the utilization of social media in political communication is of interest to the young generation because it created user-generated content that depicts one's political views and ideas. Various scholars have conducted an examination on how social networking sites have influenced political behavior and most importantly political participation (McGuigan & Manzerolle, 2015, p.1832). The development of new media can be analyzed based on distinct revolutionary phases. The first phase included the dominance of entertainment media and traditional communication techniques in politics. In the second phase, new political platforms were initiated from the introduction of technological innovations such as the email, World Wide Web, and so on that presented interactivity features. The final phase was characterized by the introduction of Web 2.0 applications that delivered a platform for high-level interactivity.

            The accessibility of Web 2.0 applications enabled users to come up with their personalized content by utilizing different social networking sites. This last phase of new media development is highly associated with political campaigns such as the 2013 Italian presidential campaigns; therefore, underlying...


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