Blogs and Forums in a Presidential Election Process in Turkey

Blogs and Forums in a Presidential Election Process in Turkey

Güliz Uluç (Ege University, Turkey), Mehmet Yilmaz (Ege University, Turkey) and Umit Isikdag (IT Consultant, Ankara, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-368-5.ch033
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Abstract

Internet forums and weblogs have been institutionalized as an integral part of the political communication system. Political candidates, interest groups, and other political actors increasingly employ the Internet as a communication tool. Weblogs and online discussion forums are recognized as new democratic meeting places. This chapter investigates the role of political blogs and forums in the 2007 presidential election in Turkey and focuses on the interaction between political actors and the citizens. The content of 270 top-rated blogs and 15 discussion forums posted between April and September of 2007 was analyzed. The findings indicate that blogs and forums function as enablers of political dialogue and facilitate political participation and civic interaction. The conclusion is drawn that blogs and forums have emerged as innovative modes of political communication in Turkey resulting in a broad interchange of diverse political opinions in the political arena.
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Background

As the Internet continues to expand, thousands of new blogs appear every hour. As of December 2008, Technorati1 has indexed 133 million blogs since 2002. Internet forums are expanding in numbers and popularity; for example, in the United States nearly 30% of Internet users read or contribute to them (Li & Bernoff, 2008, p. 42). Parallel to these developments, the level of interest in the political process has also grown. Specifically, many citizens go online to obtain political information and engage in interactions with others. The number of political actors and political information seekers who integrate online discussion forums and blogs into their political activity and daily lives has steadily increased. Almost every political candidate today maintains a vigorous online presence. Blogs and Internet forums are seen as democratic meeting places, akin to a virtual agora. This perception has resulted in a number of conceptualizations, including “the virtual public sphere” (Sassi, 2001, p. 89; Keane, 2001, p. 70), “electronic commons” (Blumler & Coleman, 2001; Abramson et al., 1988), and “electronic Athens” (Mulgan & Adonis, 1994 p.2).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blog Entry: A news item or a post to a blog on a specific subject.

Weblog or Blog: An online, personal diary in which the information is presented in reverse chronological order.

Forum: An open (online) discussion platform accessible through a web browser. Forums sites are usually designed/constructed in the form of a bulletin board.

Blogosphere: A global online network of blogs, people, and ideas.

Political Communication: An intersection of communication and political practices.

Comment-to-Entry Ratio (CER): A metric, proposed by the authors, for measuring interactivity in blogs and forums (CER = Average number of comments per blog /Average number of entries per forum).

Comments: Discussion items clustered around a particular blog entry or main topic.

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