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Trust, confidence, credibility: citizen responses on Twitter to opinion polls during the 2010 UK general election

Ampofo, Lawrence, O’Loughlin, Ben and Anstead, Nick (2011) Trust, confidence, credibility: citizen responses on Twitter to opinion polls during the 2010 UK general election. Information, Communication and Society, 14 (6). pp. 850-871. ISSN 1468-4462

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Abstract

This paper explores how citizens-users think and communicate about public opinion polling through an analysis of tweets published during and just after the 2010 UK General Election leaders’ debate broadcast on Sky News on 22nd April 2010, the second of three debates. For those who comments on events in real time through social media such as Twitter, a category we call the ‘viewertariat’, this event was notable for Sky News’s immediate coverage of a YouGov poll that seemed discrepant. Indeed, within an hour of the end of the debate, various mainstream media published a number of polls apparently at odds with each other. Such a discrepancy opened a space for lay theories to emerge about the relationship between political parties, media, polling firms, and the wider public itself. Individuals were pushed to find explanations and quick to publish them in a public assembly of views. Analysis of these data illuminate not just what people think, but how they think about long-term concerns of scholars and practitioners of politics and political communication, such as credibility, trust and power, and how citizens manage expectations during events where the outcome is uncertain. Accounting for viewertariat behaviour develops recent research on mediatized politics in important ways. First, we find some viewertariat members performing a lay tutelage role, providing information and explanations about polling and elections to fellow citizens who express confusion. This indicates the continued importance of informed public discussion to some citizens. Second, we find a blurring of elite/non-elite interactions alongside persistent theories about elite conspiracies.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rics
Additional Information: © 2011 Taylor & Francis
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 17 May 2011 09:55
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/36141/

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