XI Congreso de la AECPA (V). Political behaviour and political communication

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

Political behaviour and political communication

Este grupo de trabajo abarca diferentes aspectos metodológicos vinculados con la medición de comportamientos, valores y actitudes sociopolíticas, así como la repercusión que dichos aspectos pueden tener en el análisis de la relación entre ellos. En este sentido, tendrán cabida en él ponencias que incorporen elementos asociados al diseño de investigaciones empíricas, la operacionalización de conceptos, o la creación de indicadores e índices de medición tanto de comportamiento político y electoral, como de actitudes y valores sociopolíticos. Serán bienvenidos también los trabajos que traten de la adaptación de los indicadores-conceptos (y en su caso, preguntas de cuestionario) al contexto de la investigación comparativa. Tienen su espacio así mismo en este grupo otros aspectos más específicos de la metodología de encuestas tales como el impacto del modo de administración del cuestionario (CAPI; PAPI; CAWI, etc.) en la tasa de respuesta o los resultados obtenidos, los sesgos de la no respuesta parcial o total y cómo (intentar) remediarlos, y otros temas relacionados.

Who answers what and when? The effects of questionnaires in the no answer in the surveys of the CIS barometers.
Lucía Medina Lindo, Robert Lineira, Jordi Muñoz Mendoza, Guillem Rico Camps

  • Analyze the effect of the design of surveys in the answers
  • Assess whether the results of surveys shape opinion

The analysis goes through the people that did not answered or stated that they “do not know” to political surveys.

  • Length of the question: the longer, the more no answers. Not conclusive.
  • Position in the questionnaire: the later the question comes, the more no answers. Yes, and significant (tiredness effect).
  • The more the options a question has as suggestions for answer, the better. Yes.
  • Autonomy of the question. The more you have to know about the options, the worse. Yes.
  • Central categories. They act as a harbour and make people answer less no. Yes.

Methodological problems in the measurement of the remembrance of one’s vote: the post-electoral surveys of the CIS.
Jaime Balaguer, Mónica Méndez Lago

Analyze the bias in the remembrance of one’s vote through individual data. Why is that that there are biases?

  • Around 30% of people state having voted a party that they did not.

Change of option, memory (one option, other non stated), occultation.

  • Index of no collaboration
  • Interest in politics
  • Political knowledge
  • Partidism
  • Ideological identity
  • Moment of the decision
  • Doubts about the voting option (no significant)

Conclusion: better to use the pre-electoral survey and not the post-electoral, as the post-electoral has suffered many influences and is of lower quality.

Decided or undecided. An investigation of individuals’ (in)decisions to Catalan independence
Xavier Fernández-i-Martín, Toni Rodon

Do people that answer the question about the independence of Catalonia do it honestly?

  • Undecided people that dk/na: nonresponse: do not answer, item nonresponse: do now want to answer, uncommitted nonresponse, indecision
  • Uncertainly about their preference: social conformity, social ambivalence
  • Heterogeneity in the distribution of uncertainly and undecided

Hidden preferences:

  • Abstention too high, people hiding preferences
  • Spiral of silence
  • Cross-pressure. People living in ”adverse” scenarios for their true options

According to the model, there is highest consistency for the “yes”, high consistency for the “no” and low consistency for the abstention. And the consistency of the “yes” is growing along time, then refuting the spiral of silence hypothesis.

Measuring tolerance towards corruption. An application of the unidimensional scaling.
Pablo Cabrera Álvarez, Danilo Serani.

What is the relevance of political corruption? There is a tolerance towards political corruption, not blaming or accepting practices ethically refuted. There are several degrees of tolerance: from tacitly accepting corrupt practices to even defending them (e.g. demonstrations in favor of corrupted politicians).
There is a cognitive dissociation where one condemns corruption while, on the other hand, some corruption is tolerated or even defended.
Analysis based on building a Likert scale of corruption tolerance.
Hypotheses:

  • Social nature: Power corrupts man
  • Efficacy: It does not matter whether the politician is corrupt, but that he performs well
  • Indistinction: Everyone is corrupt, everyone does it.

The scaled proved significant, though the wording of the options could be affecting the final results.

The gender gap in political knowledge: is it all about guessing?
Mónica Ferrín, Marta Fraile, Gema García

Is there really a difference/gap in political knowledge between men and women? Do women really know less about politics than men? Why? Reasons in literature:

  • Socialization: politics is a man thing
  • Socioeconomic inequalities between men and women make them more prone to be knowledgeable in politics
  • The format of questions affects the result. Men are less risk averse and usually answer. Women, more risk averse, would rather not answer than providing a wrong answer.
  • Different interests and areas of knowledge.
  • Other: surveyor effect, context effect, etc.

XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

XI Congreso de la AECPA (IV). Political representation and citizen participation: whan can political theory bring to institutional reform?

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

Political representation and citizen participation: whan can political theory bring to institutional reform?

En el contexto en el que nos encontramos, con una crisis económica que no solo está mostrando las debilidades e ineficiencias de nuestro sistema político, sino que comienza a afectar a su legitimación democrática, resulta imperioso revisar la organización y el funcionamiento de nuestras instituciones más básicas. Pero hacerlo exige huir de propuestas de reforma reactivas, condicionadas por la coyuntura y dirigidas a corregir malas prácticas, y a hacer un análisis de nuestras instituciones democráticas que tenga en cuenta la enorme complejidad de los procesos políticos en sistemas multi-nivel, cuyas instituciones apenas han modificado su diseño o sus fines para tener un mejor encaje en el sistema final, o para que este adquiera una mayor coherencia como un todo. Este panel tiene por objeto presentar las aportaciones teóricas que pueden ser relevantes para orientar globalmente esas reformas y mejorar la calidad de la democracia, centradas en la renovación del discurso de la representación política y la participación ciudadana (Anskersmit, Saward, Warren, Mansbridge, etc.) y su repercusión institucional (rol de los parlamentos, mecanismos deliberativos, representatividad de los grupos de interés, etc.).

Participative Democracy in local Mexican governments: the country capital
Ernesto Casas Cárdenas.

The republican perspective approaches negotiation and agreements as endogenous.
Deliberation requires:

  • Equity in socioeconomic terms.
  • Equality before the law and sharing of values.

Hypothesis: Success of participation is related to the commitment of the authorities with the agreements achieved.
Informal relationships between citizens, civic organizations and authorities have a key role in relationships, but can logically hurt formality.
Conclusions:

  • Informality and scepticism of political parties are important barriers to the development of participation.

Liberal and democratic? The participative theory of civic neorepublicanism.
Rafael Vázquez García, Aleksandra Sojka

Can civic neorepublicanism integrate the values of liberalism and of communitarism?
It seems that after WWII democracy is not working: is too much formalist, infested with protocol, non-participative. Can we bring participation back into democracy?

  • Less participation weakens democracy.
  • Civil society as a fosterer.

Civic neorepublicanism:

  • Plurality of groups
  • Autonomy between different spheres of life
  • Publicity in interaction
  • Privacy as space of moral development of individuals
  • Necessary legality that enables its functioning.
  • The health of democracies relies on moral commitments.
  • Volunteer associations.

Obedience to law has to be accompanied with moral values and strong criticism: civic disobedience is, thus, highly democratic.

Democracy, crisis, alternatives and the reproduction of the patriarchate
Jone Martínez Palacios.

Has participative democracy taken into account the gender issue?
The social contract that builds societies and democracies has surely not taken into account the feminine factor but, on the contrary, is reproducing the patriarchate of society. In this sense, democracy is not in crisis, but <em>was born</em> in crisis.
It now seems that there is an ongoing regeneration of democracy in which a new contract is being drawn and agreed, led not by the three democratic powers but led by the fourth power of civic participation.
The problem is that most participatory or deliberative democracy experiences are not explicitly addressing the issue of a sexual contract.
Proposals

  • Link the economic debate to the democratic debate.
  • Deepen the quality of democracy, including a notion of gender.
  • Take women as full citizens.

What is represented. A renewed approach to the concept of representation.
Gonzalo Cavero Cano.

Context:

  • Diversity of values
  • Multilevel systems
  • Giving away of sovereignty
  • More actor in the political arena
  • Elected and non-elected actors

Weaknesses of representation:

  • Distance between representatives and citizens
  • Centrality of the representative vs. Importance of what is represented
  • Non-electoral representation

Changes:

  • Complex institutional system
  • Difficult accountability
  • Globalization and ICTs
  • Multiple political arenas and models of governance
  • The “simple mechanism” of representation becomes a “series of complex practices” (Lord & Pollak, 2013)

So, besides the crisis of representation, is there also a crisis of legitimacy of the model?
Does not seem so.
The constructivist turn of representation (E. Severs)

  • Centred in the communication processes
  • Enables studying extra-parliamentary actors.
  • Based on scheme of principal – agent – representation.
  • Representation is more seen as an event, a process, rather than a “moment”
  • This model puts into the equation of representation actors that were usually labelled as participation or civil society.

Conclusions:

  • More a crisis of performance, more than a crisis of model
  • Concept of representation is in tension
  • The constructivist approach can contribute to explain a more complex reality
  • “When we become more familiar with institutions and we cease to question the justifications of their existence, they atrophied by disuse”

Yes, they do represent us? Contemporary challenges to the idea of political representation in Spain.
Pedro Abelllán Artacho.

Two big issues in Spain that challenge representation: the 15M Indignados movement, and the Catalan independentist movement. Possible approaches to these phenomena.
15M:

  • We want representation
  • We want “complete” democracy
  • We have representation, but “those ones” do not represent us
  • In this model we cannot be represented

We need an idea of representation vs. Representative government
Complex sovereignty and will: apply Quebec to Catalonia
Catalan independentism:

  • Recognition and presence, now
  • I am Catalan because I speak Catalan / live in Catalonia
  • If you are Catalan you are not Spanish
  • They do not want us

Identity as a basis for democracy.
Application to the 15M: identity between representatives and represented citizens.

XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

XI Congreso de la AECPA (III). The effects of the economic crisis in Spanish democracy: legitimacy, dissatisfaction and dissaffection

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

The effects of the economic crisis in Spanish democracy: legitimacy, dissatisfaction and dissaffection

¿En qué medida la actual crisis económica española está conduciendo a una crisis de la democracia? El propósito de este grupo de trabajo sería discutir los efectos de la crisis a partir de la tradicional diferenciación de las percepciones políticas de los españoles en las tres dimensiones de legitimidad, descontento político y desafección, con especial atención a la desafección y sus distintos componentes. De modo específico planteamos que, en el contexto de la presente crisis, la evolución de la desafección puede estar bifurcándose, de tal modo que aumenta en algunos de sus componentes y entre categorías sociales con menos recursos; al mismo tiempo que disminuye de la mano de otros indicadores como el interés por la política, entre otros. Esta última tendencia estaría alentando un mayor número de ciudadanos críticos, más implicados y exigentes con el ámbito de lo político; pero, en definitiva también, menos desafectos.

Este grupo reúne trabajos que analicen tanto la evolución longitudinal de estas tres dimensiones y sus distintos indicadores, como su impacto en distintos subgrupos de población, prestando especial atención a los jóvenes, los desempleados y los habitantes de algunas comunidades autónomas. Existe un acuerdo bastante generalizado de que la crisis económica ha tenido efectos claramente diferenciados en distintos grupos sociales, así como por territorios. Por ello, el grupo de trabajo quiere reunir propuestas sobre la percepción y la implicación con la democracia entre estos distintos grupos. Ello debería permitirnos ofrecer una visión de conjunto que esté, sin embargo, basada en sus distintas tendencias.

Great Recession, institutional crisis and social change in Spain: institutional analysis and empirical findings.
Gonzalo Caballero

The paper analyses the dynamics of institutional change in the Spanish society.

Reference: Douglass North and institutional design.

Institutions as rules or institutions as equilibriums of individual pressures?

In recent years, institutional design and change has been approached as endogenous. In the case of Spain, the institutional equilibrium during the Francoism has developed into a new institutional equilibrium of the Democracy. This evolution happened in Spain specially during the 1960’s were quasi-parameters were developed and which came forward once the dictator was dead and the regime changed. Shift from self-destructing institutions of the early Francoism to the self-reinforcing institutions of the democracy.

Despite the institutional change, there still is a certain institutional deficit. And then comes the crisis: first recession in 2008-2009, a very slight recovery, and a second recession in 2011-2013. The characteristics are highest unemployment rates, general strikes, social movements and, in the end, political dissatisfaction.

Methodology: take the political trust (CIS) and compare it with the unemployment rate, and controlled by the existence of elections. The results show that when unemployment grows, political trust falls. The existence of elections, though, highly increases political trust.

Conclusion: there is a risk that a long crisis and its negative impact on employment can have a negative impact on political trust and, thus, reduce the legitimacy of the institutions.

Economic crisis and democracy and Spain: legitimacy, dissatisfaction and disaffection.
Ilke Toygur

  • Political support/democratic legitimacy was as widespread in Spain as in any Western Europe countries.
  • Political support has remained solid in the period in spite of sometimes turbulent circumstances (terrorism and violence, military coups, etc.)
  • High levels of political dissatisfaction/discontent has abounded in the period, but never led to a decline in support of democracy or to birth of relevant anti-system parties.

Two dimensions of disaffection: institutional disaffection and disengagement.

Questions:

  • Do the previous questions still apply in Spain?
  • Can trust be put back into the system or is the system already spoiled? Will the political system be granted support ever again?

Hypotheses:

  • There is no direct relationship between legitimacy and discontent.
  • The discontent is not a threat to the system.
  • Economic crisis is affecting the citizens in different ways.

Time series analysis for setting:

  • The association between legitimacy, dissatisfaction and disaffection.
  • Their dependence on economic and political facts during the last three decades.

Dependent variables (CIS): legitimacy and satisfaction. Independent: government performance, party in government, levels of education, terrorism, corruption, ideological positioning.
Unemployment negatively affects legitimacy.
Who are the citizens? A typology

 

Trust

No trust

Interest

Cives

Critical

No Interest

Deferential

Disaffected

Conclusions:

  • Even if political discontent and country is governed by bad policies, legitimacy is not affected.
  • Citizens blame the government both for the situation of economy and austerity policies.
  • Economic crisis is bringing a political crisis.
  • Among those disaffected, what is the relationship between their diffidence toward institutions and their support for the political system? Are they angry with institutions but still believe that the system, as a whole, is a good thing?

The political effects of the economic crisis in its territorial dimension: legitimacy, dissatisfaction and political disaffection in times of crisis.
Teresa Mata López, Marta Paradés

Taking into account that the “autonomías” have been key for the consolidation of democracy in Spain, how has political disaffection been affected by the crisis in the different autonomies?

Hypotheses:

  • Legitimacy of the system not related with satisfaction of the economy.
  • Satisfaction with the system relate with the performance of institutions.

The support to the autonomic model changes along time but differs depending on the territory.
There is a strong relationship between the economic situation of Spain and the legitimacy of the democratic system. But, when the crisis becomes deeper, the significance of the correlation is weaker.

Conclusions:

  • The crisis deepens the impact of former changes that were already in place.
  • There is a positive relationship between the valuations of the economic situation and the legitimacy of the autonomic state.
  • The relationship between the economic valuation and satisfaction with the performance of the autonomic system “disappears” with the crisis.
  • There are changes between different territories due to ideology and identity.

XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

XI Congreso de la AECPA (II). Elections and public opinion in times of crisis

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

Elections and public opinion in times of crisis

Los gobiernos que se enfrentan a las urnas en los últimos años lo hacen en un contexto económico muy adverso. Desde la irrupción de la crisis, casi 7 de cada 10 gobiernos europeos no han conseguido mantenerse en el poder. El objetivo de este grupo de trabajo es discutir nuevas investigaciones en curso sobre las elecciones tanto en España (locales, autonómicas y generales) como a nivel comparado (Europa u otras democracias desarrolladas) que han tenido lugar desde el inicio de la recesión. El grupo de trabajo está particularmente interesado en analizar cómo el actual contexto económico ha afectado al comportamiento electoral de los ciudadanos (nivel de participación, voto al gobierno, ascenso de partidos antisistema, etc.) como en sus actitudes políticas. No obstante, también seremos receptivos a trabajos que, aunque no traten directamente la economía como un elemento central, analicen el comportamiento electoral tanto en España como en otras democracias desarrolladas a en los últimos años.

Vote intention in Spain 1978-2013. A Second Transition towards extra-representative politics?
Ismael Peña-López

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Full text:
Peña-López, I. (2013). Intención de voto en España 1978-2013. ¿Una Segunda Transición hacia una política extra-representativa?. Comunicación en el XI Congreso de la AECPA. 18-20 de septiembre de 2013. Sevilla: AECPA
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Peña-López, I. (2013). Intención de voto en España 1978-2013. ¿Una Segunda Transición hacia una política extra-representativa?. Comunicación en el XI Congreso de la AECPA. 18-20 de septiembre de 2013. Sevilla: AECPA

A case of “direct representative democracy”? The Five Stars Movement between the mith of immediacy and the challenge of persistence in the institutions.
Natascia Mattucci.

The Movement 5 Stelle (M5S) got 25% in Italy when most of people used to vote only to two parties. The M5S is not an extra-representative movement: it actually is against the system, but it is also present inside the institutions, to change the system from within.

Most people tag the M5S as an anti-politics movement, populist. But, is it? How does political representation change after M5S breaks bipolarism and becomes the most voted force?

There is a strong anti-politics rhetoric, based on the dilettante politician that “does not need to know about politics”, that does not have to be a professional of politics. Anti-politics is a radical criticism of the professional politician: the politician should be someone that has (another) a job. The politician is a spokesman or a loudspeaker, not a representative. Anti-politics aims at a “repersonalization” of politics, re-establishing a direct bound between the spokesman and the people, who controls and decides.

Politicians, if not representatives but spokesmen, then they have a mandate to translate what the people wants to the parliament. They cannot decide on their own: they just have to vote what the people voted. This has a problem as the representative then lacks its general vision for the common good. If the politician cannot infer from what is being discussed what is best for everyone and vote in consequence, then legitimacy is broken.

The M5S only used social media for their information and communications and promote that citizens do alike. Meetups, blogs, Twitter, etc. are tools that break top-down communication and eliminate the intermediation of mass media – and the biases and censorships that those add.

The problem is inner democracy of the movement: the founders of the movement own the platforms (e.g. the main blog) and the brands. But the thing is that people have embraced the movement because it represents a disruption in Italian politics.

Unemployment and vote. Does unemployment affect the voting experience?
Miguel Cainzos López

  • Does the personal experience of unemployment electoral participation?
  • Do unemployed people participate differently?

Analyzed the Spanish general elections from 1979 to 2011.

And, briefly put, it seems that unemployment affects very little the sense of one’s vote. But it does have a small negative effect over participation.

The Spanish Context

  • Always a lot of unemployment, with most elections with unemployment above 15%.
  • Seven big legal reforms of the job market plus a few dozen of minor reforms.
  • Unemployment perceived as a major problem by the citizens. The problem is relevant and visible.
  • It is characteristic from Spaniards that citizens strongly demand from the State to guarantee a job for everyone.

Hypotheses

  • H1: Apathy. Unemployed people are disaffected in general and with politics in particular and, hence, they will vote less.
  • H2: Generalized punishment. Voters will reward or punish the government according to their performance. Thus, unemployed voters will punish the government whatever its color, or they will not vote (punish the government without rewarding other parties).
  • H3: Ownership of the topic. The party that is perceived as more competent or promotes better policies on the topic, they will “own” the issue. Unemployed people will vote for the “owner” of the issue. The PSOE owned the issue during the 1980’s and, after the 1993-1994 crisis, the PP became the owner until 2011.
  • H4: Punishment conditioned to the ideological affinity. Everyone will vote to the party that better fits their ideology. Only unemployed voters that are ideologically near to the party in the government will actually “change” their vote (and punish the government) by either voting another party or just not voting.
  • H5: Punishment based on the politization of the personal experience by the left-wing voters. Only left-wing voters will politicize their experience with unemployment and thus blame the government for their economical situation.

Results

Apathy seems confirmed as people tend to vote less when unemployed.

In 1986, left-wing employees did punish the socialist government. The hypothesis of ownership could also apply in 1986. In 2004 (conservative party in office) the logic seems the reverse.

But, all in all, apathy is what prevails.

XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

XI Congreso de la AECPA (I). Digital inclusion and Internet governance for an open government

Notes from the XI Congreso de la AECPA. La política en tiempos de incertidumbre, organized by the Asociación Española de Ciencia Política y de la Administración (AECPA), in Seville, Spain, the 18-20 September 2013. More notes on this event: 11aecpa.

Digital inclusion and Internet governance for an open government

The development of open government initiatives in a number of countries around the world has highlighted the need to establish the means by which all people without exception can benefit from the potential of these initiatives. The risk of a permanent digital divide whereby a portion of the population may remain marginalized from access to the Information Technology and Communication (ICT) has raised concerns (Geneva and Tunis in 2003 and 2005 respectively), and obviously as the open government relies on the use of ICT, it should be developed in a context in which to ensure equal opportunities in access to the entire population. More broadly, the open government expresses a new model of interaction between government and citizens (new citizenship status).Digital citizenship and e-inclusion strategies are therefore inseparable aspects of the development of open government, not only because this is strictly instrumental (open data), from the inside out, from e-government or e-government, but moreover, as the open government requires promote citizen participation in the design and implementation of policies and the provision of public services by opening processes (open process) and the use of social networks and platforms for citizen participation (Ramirez-Alujas, 2012: 20), favoring the open action to improve regulatory proposals submitted by public authorities (Campos and Silvan, 2012: 70).

Digital Citizenship: for every age? Digital inclusion strategies and use of ICTs in different age segments in elderly people in Spain.
Eva Alfama Guillén, Jorge Luís Salcedo Maldonado

Questions:
To what extent policies addressed to elderly people have an ICT component?

  • They provide infrastructure.
  • They foster digital literacy and development of digital skills.
  • Use ICTs to promote wellbeing and participation of elderly people.

Data from 8 municipalities in Spain.
Hypotheses:

  • Need of public policies for e-inclusion for the elderly people more positive, comprehensive and participatory, which promote active aging and the strengthening of autonomy and empowerment.
  • Key role of ICTs, that can foster autonomy and empowerment of elderly people of make them more vulnerable before digital exclusion.

Users are tech savvy when it comes to mobile telephony, but not about being online.
Intervention levels:

  • Participation: low.
  • Social promotion: medium.
  • Community action: punctual.
  • Social services on primary health care: punctual.

Policy makers promote the use of ICTs to connect different generations.
Important focus on tele-assistance.
Fields of intervention with elderly people and ICTs:

  • Digital literacy
  • Empowerment , autonomy, tele-assistance.

Elderly people do not identify themselves as elderly people: want to be considered as active and participative citizens.
Conclusions:

  • Digital inclusion for elderly people very marginal.
  • Though these policies address very hot issues.
  • Need for more commitment and resources.

An open and transparent government in Spanish municipalities: the case of Quart de Poblet.
Joaquín Martín Cubas, Juan Medina Cobo.

The IRIA report provides evidence that the degree of implementation of ICTs in Spanish municipalities is quite good, both in terms of infrastructure and public services. But the Orange report states that even if infrastructures and services are OK, uptake is not, mainly because of matters of accessibility and usability.

Quart is a small municipality in the province of Valencia. It has a long tradition of participation.

The DIEGO (Digital Inclusive e-Government) project (with funding from the European Commission) was used to create a platform – QuarTIC – through which citizens (especially elderly people) can access e-government services.

The SEED platform aims at improving accessibility and usability of public e-services.

It is worth noting that the municipality needs not develop a lot of technology or infrastructures: citizens are already online at social networking sites. The municipality should be able to be where the citizens are, and engage in a conversation with them.

Now the local government Is adapting the IREKIA (Basque Government’s) open source open government platform to develop their own open government strategy. This strategy, as it has been said before, aims not at substituting but complementing the strategy addressed to being on different social networking sites besides the citizens.

The application of ICTs in the field of Health Care: the case of Spain and Cuba
Luca Chao Pérez, Andrés Cernadas Ramos.

  • What is the impact of the Internet on the health system?
  • In what applications does it materialize?
  • What factors are fostering the change?
  • What strategic lines and public programmes are being profiled?
  • What should be the role of R+D in Health?

In the field of e-Health, the Internet has meant:

  • The democratization of information. But, what quality of information?
  • But a lack of communication, lack of interaction.

In Cuba this is a little bit different in relationship with Spain. The INFOMED network puts in contact professionals that work in remote areas, sharing information, interacting among themselves… and also providing e-Health services to their patients.

That is, in Cuba, the application of ICTs in Cuba has been centered in the professional, while in Spain and most Europe the model is more citizen-centered, aiming at empowering the e-patient so that they can manage their own health.

  • Are we heading towards a new model of patient: the e-patient?
  • Will more information and more empowerment change the kind of health interventions?
  • Are we assessing e-Health initiatives to be able to tell the impact of the policies? The cost-benefit analysis?

XI Congreso de la AECPA (2013)

Sandra González-Bailón: The self-organisation of political protest and communication networks

Notes from the research seminar The self-organisation of political protest and communication networks, organized by the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute‘s research group GADE (e-Governance: Administration and Electronic Democracy) within the framework of the UOC’s Master’s Degree in Political Analysis and the new Master’s Degree in e-Government and Administration, in Barcelona, Spain, on September 17th 2013.

Sandra González-Bailón, Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication (University of Pennsylvania)
The self-organisation of political protest and communication networks.

Cyberactivism: there has been an obvious drastic reduction of costs of participation. May this be the reason more people are willing to engage in politics? Will these movements last in time? How do they work? How do they grow or are managed?

There also seems to be a certain degree of contagion of social movements: information flows through networks and enables new protests that replicate previous ones. Indeed, social networking sites help in putting in contact different and isolated communities, which also makes it easier for mobilizations to spread.

Network theory, network analysis and big data are being very handy tools for analysing what is happening in the field of social movements.

Threshold models

Watts, D.J. & Dodds, P.S. (2010). “Threshold Models of Social Influence”. In P. Bearman & P. Hedström (Eds.) Handbook of Analytical Sociology. OUP

Threshold models measure the likelihood that someone will do something above a certain threshold or number of people have already decided to do or have already done something. E.g. if your threshold of buying a new smartphone is 20%, you will decide to buy your new smartphone once 20% of your friends/network has already bought it.

  • the shape of threshold distribution determines the global reach of
    cascades;

  • individual thresholds interact with the size of local networks;
  • critical mass depends on activating large number of low threshold actors that are well connected in the overall structure;
  • exposure to multiple sources can be more important than multiple exposures from the same source (complex contagion)

The Spanish indignados movement or 15M

The Spanish indignados movement is highly hierarchical (high average degree), as most of online networks are. And the people that are in the core of the network tend to interact with other nodes in the periphery of the network (very low level of assortativity).

Most of the users had medium threshold levels — neither pure leaders, nor pure followers. What can be seen is that, actually, users with lower threshold values used to tweet at the beginning of the demonstrations while users with higher thresholds used to tweet later in time (i.e. a demonstration of the threshold model). When analysing the information cascades, once again it can be evidenced that messages spread virally and very quickly.

Where are recruiters or influentials and spreaders? The k-shell decomposition helps us to tell the degree of centrality of certain individuals or Twitter users. What we see is that recruiters do not necessarily belong to the core of the network, but are randomly distributed along the networks. But when it comes to analysing the lenght of the cascades that they initiate, core users spark longer cascades. In other words, messages are not always initiated at the core, but longer chains of messages are.

Thus, the power of networks have a relative weight, but hierarchies still have much weight in the diffusion of messages.

González-Bailón, S., Borge-Holthoefer, J. & Moreno, Y. (2013). “Broadcasters and Hidden Influentials in Online Protest Diffusion. American Behavioral Scientist.

Four type of users according to centralily and comparing ratio of mentions received/sent and ratio of following/followers: influentials (high ratio of received/sent, low ratio of following/followers), broadcasters (low, high), hidden influentials (high, low), common users (low/, low). Influentials usually initiate longer cascades.

Related to the evolution of the movement, at least what data say is that the first anniversary in 2012 was less concurred in terms of people tweeting or participating through Twitter. On the other hand, centrality grew, which means that hierarchy grew too. Why? Maybe because the leaders were less able to mobilize other people, maybe because these leaders became stronger leaders along time. Again, cascades in 2012 grew less than in 2011, which means that the reach of the message was shorter. Thus, more hierarchy and less reach. This evidence goes against the motto of “horizontality” of network-based citizen movements. When hierarchies are measured with Gini-coefficients, it becomes obvious that unequal distribution grows in all categories (influentials, etc.).

One of the consequences of this evolutoin of the network is the cloaking of the network: influentials become less large and more central, and thus they centralize more the debate. And sooner or later the risk of not being able to manage such centrality in the path of communications end up in cloaking the network and making it much weaker.

Brokers are people that bridge separate networks. It can be seen that brokers have low levels of structural constraint and actually send tweets with aim at putting in contact these different networks (e.g. by means of sending tweets with hashtags that belong to the “vocabulary” of more than one network). They sent more messages, got more retweets (RT) and received more mentions.

The problem is that there are just few brokers, which, again, pose a problem of cloaking the communication between networks would they disappear.

Conclusions

  • They are not horizontal structures.
  • They are not stationary. They are dynamic and change in time.
  • They are not robust and fluid: they have structural “holes” that difficult the processes of diffusion.

Discussion

Q: Is Twitter a social networking platform? And how does this affect the analysis? González-Bailón: it certainly is more than that, as it has a broadcasting component. And this sure affects the analysis as it fosters centrality and hierarchy more than other SNSs such as Facebook. On the other hand, some users are actually collective or institutional users, which also affects the rule of the game.