Israeli Representatives' Use of and Attitudes Toward Web Applications

Israeli Representatives' Use of and Attitudes Toward Web Applications

Osnat Akirav (The Western Galilee College, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7669-3.ch036


In the last decade, there has been a major increase in the technology that enables representatives and voters to connect with one another. Representatives can use email, their political party's website, personal websites, Facebook, e-newsletters, weblogs and Twitter simultaneously to bypass the traditional political media. The author asks, what are the usage patterns of these web applications? What are the characteristics of the representatives who use these technologies? What are their attitudes about their use? Most previous studies have concentrated on one perspective (representatives or voters) or used one research method (questionnaires, interviews, hard data). This article is unique in that it combines several research methods: interviews with representatives regarding their attitudes toward the new technology and hard data from the Israeli Knesset's website regarding the MKs' use of web applications. The findings demonstrate that the Israeli representatives are no different than their colleagues in other parliaments. Young MKs and junior MKs are more likely to use web applications than older MKs and those with more seniority. However, coalition MKs use web applications differently than opposition MKs. Furthermore, the representatives have positive attitudes toward the use of web applications and consider them useful for communicating with the voters.
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The Use Of Social Media And Web 2.0 In Politics

The development of the World Wide Web in general, and the growth of social media and Web 2.0 in particular, created a new communications environment, which allows for direct, bilateral, updated and fast communication between representatives and their voters. It is important to note that the terms social media and Web 2.0 are often used interchangeable. However, scholars talk about Web 2.0 as referring mainly to online applications and use the term social media to describe the social aspects of Web 2.0 applications. Examples of these aspects include participation, openness, conversation, community and connectedness (e.g., Constantinides & Fountain, 2008; Zafarani et al., 2014).

The technological features and capabilities of social media and Web 2.0 have transformed the Internet from a space in which users passively consume information to an active medium where users can take a pro-active and interactive part in creating, exchanging and distributing information (e.g., Constantinides & Fountain, 2008; Jackson & Lilleker, 2011; Helms, 2012; Zittel, 2012; Klinger, 2013; Van Dijck, 2013; Kaigo & Okura, 2016; Valaei & Baroto, 2017). Scholars have identified five characteristics of social media that are used extensively by legislators - immediacy, openness, inclusiveness, the opportunity to debate issues of concern and sharing (Jackson, 2003; Zittel, 2003; Ward & Lusoli, 2005; Coleman, 2006; Norton, 2007; Leston-Banderia & Ward, 2008; Jackson & Lilleker, 2011; Helms, 2012; Hoffman, 2012; Jericho, 2013; Kaigo & Okura, 2016).

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