Abstract

Social media have been introduced in the eParticipation domain to engage citizens in collabora-tive discourse, allowing for low cost and low effort exchanges of information among actors who are distant from time and space perspectives. Such online communities rely heavily on the tech-nical capabilities of social media to enable community dynamics, and the interest in what oppor-tunities and challenges social media provide for engaging in collaborative discourse is high. Sev-eral studies have discussed the engagement of individuals in online communities through social media; however, there is still room for contributions shedding light on how information is actually exchanged through these digital platforms. We tackle this point in this paper by running an ex-ploratory analysis of the discourse that is developing on social media channels used by represent-atives of a political party (the Five Star Movement) to engage citizens in discussions of proposals and idea generation, and we reflect on our findings in light of key characteristics of the public sphere. The results of our study show that social media are mainly used as places for engaging cit-izens, supporting representatives, and holding them accountable for their actions. Based on the results of our exploratory work, we formulate some considerations for future studies of social me-dia usage in the eParticipation field.

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