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Presidents on Twitter : Discourses of African presidents and implications for democracy.

Ssozi, Javie LU (2016) MKVM13 20161
Media and Communication Studies
Department of Communication and Media
Abstract
The growing number of African Presidents on Twitter affirms that media, in all its forms, will always play a fundamental role in contemporary politics. Moreover, based on its face value, the presence of Presidents on Twitter could suggest that citizens are gaining unprecedented access to their president. But, this thesis contends that the newness of Twitter should not blind us into thinking that this trend is purely democratic. Instead, we need to be very critical about the social, political and historical perspectives that shape use of media in contemporary politics. The example President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s radio chats shows that use of the media among the political elite to inform and influence citizens is not a new phenomenon.... (More)
The growing number of African Presidents on Twitter affirms that media, in all its forms, will always play a fundamental role in contemporary politics. Moreover, based on its face value, the presence of Presidents on Twitter could suggest that citizens are gaining unprecedented access to their president. But, this thesis contends that the newness of Twitter should not blind us into thinking that this trend is purely democratic. Instead, we need to be very critical about the social, political and historical perspectives that shape use of media in contemporary politics. The example President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s radio chats shows that use of the media among the political elite to inform and influence citizens is not a new phenomenon. To this historic example, we can add the issue of power – political, social, discursive and so on – and it’s implications on discourse and social relations. Therefore, it is only through scrutinizing these perspectives that we can safely navigate the contours of political discourse in contemporary society.
This study employed a qualitative content analysis and critical discourse analysis to scrutinize over 6,000 tweets of three African presidents namely, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Kaguta Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. The study has observed that even though the growing number of presidents on Twitter presents more opportunities for ordinary citizens to engage their president in political debate, it is the initiatives citizens take to engage the president that particularly yield more maximalist modes of participation. The Twitter practices of the presidents generally show a very low intensity of engagement and participation in public debate. However, discourses of the presidents on Twitter attest that they participate in a wide range of topic, from politics to personal interests, and all these topics have been observed influence and attract public engagement in one way or another. Moreover, use of popular culture to connect with citizens remains a double-edged sword that could play in the hands of the president to influence and control public discourse or boost participation in a vibrant political debate.
Overall, Twitter continues to be an important arena for identity politics and space where ordinary citizens attempt to challenge the presidents’ political power and hegemony. Yet, the pie throwing and insults in the discourses seems to discredit the participation of some and instead, emphasize the performativity the platform affords. Therefore, in young and fragile democracies, Twitter will always be a valuable media platform albeit social and political forces will always attempt to discredit its relevance and threaten its existence. (Less)
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author
Ssozi, Javie LU
supervisor
organization
course
MKVM13 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Twitter, Presidents on Line, East Africa, Performative Politics, Political Communication, Participation, Minimalist, Maximalist, Participation Paradigm
language
English
id
8883658
date added to LUP
2016-06-23 16:43:04
date last changed
2016-06-23 16:43:04
@misc{8883658,
  abstract     = {The growing number of African Presidents on Twitter affirms that media, in all its forms, will always play a fundamental role in contemporary politics. Moreover, based on its face value, the presence of Presidents on Twitter could suggest that citizens are gaining unprecedented access to their president. But, this thesis contends that the newness of Twitter should not blind us into thinking that this trend is purely democratic. Instead, we need to be very critical about the social, political and historical perspectives that shape use of media in contemporary politics. The example President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s radio chats shows that use of the media among the political elite to inform and influence citizens is not a new phenomenon. To this historic example, we can add the issue of power – political, social, discursive and so on – and it’s implications on discourse and social relations. Therefore, it is only through scrutinizing these perspectives that we can safely navigate the contours of political discourse in contemporary society.
This study employed a qualitative content analysis and critical discourse analysis to scrutinize over 6,000 tweets of three African presidents namely, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Kaguta Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. The study has observed that even though the growing number of presidents on Twitter presents more opportunities for ordinary citizens to engage their president in political debate, it is the initiatives citizens take to engage the president that particularly yield more maximalist modes of participation. The Twitter practices of the presidents generally show a very low intensity of engagement and participation in public debate. However, discourses of the presidents on Twitter attest that they participate in a wide range of topic, from politics to personal interests, and all these topics have been observed influence and attract public engagement in one way or another. Moreover, use of popular culture to connect with citizens remains a double-edged sword that could play in the hands of the president to influence and control public discourse or boost participation in a vibrant political debate.
Overall, Twitter continues to be an important arena for identity politics and space where ordinary citizens attempt to challenge the presidents’ political power and hegemony. Yet, the pie throwing and insults in the discourses seems to discredit the participation of some and instead, emphasize the performativity the platform affords. Therefore, in young and fragile democracies, Twitter will always be a valuable media platform albeit social and political forces will always attempt to discredit its relevance and threaten its existence.},
  author       = {Ssozi, Javie},
  keyword      = {Twitter,Presidents on Line,East Africa,Performative Politics,Political Communication,Participation,Minimalist,Maximalist,Participation Paradigm},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Presidents on Twitter : Discourses of African presidents and implications for democracy.},
  year         = {2016},
}