Electronic Participation (ePart) Conference

Understanding Twitter use among parliament representatives:A genre analysis

This article examines parliament representatives’ Twitter- contributions (tweets). First, the genre of communication approach is introduced to identify common characteristics and communication patterns. Second, the findings are analysed using various eDemocracy models and deliberative standards to identify to what extent these tweets could be characterized as part of a deliberative discussion. The tweets are mainly dominated by five communication purposes; providing links to information sources for other Twitter users, to inform about the representative’s ongoing activities, to express views on topical issues, introducing non-political (private) content and participating in online discussions with other parliament representatives. Other less frequent communication patterns include tweets attracting attention to the representative’s own blogs, requests for input from readers and finally discussions with citizens. The analysed tweets generally did not meet deliberative standards and are dominated by politicians disseminating information and discussing with other parliament representatives. We conclude by arguing that the parliament representatives´ Twitter use is linked to the Liberal Democracy model, where the main purpose is to disseminate information to electors, and provide information on ongoing activities to the audience.