Salience, Self-Salience, and Discursive Opportunities: An Effective Media Presence Construction Through Social Media in the Peruvian Presidential Election

Salience, Self-Salience, and Discursive Opportunities: An Effective Media Presence Construction Through Social Media in the Peruvian Presidential Election

Eduardo Villanueva-Mansilla (Department of Communications, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Peru)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1828-1.ch013

Abstract

Peruvian electoral campaigning, centered on the candidate and lacking a significant connection with contention politics occurring in years previous to the poll, is a very diverse exercise, trying to achieve success through a variety of actions while facing a common-sense interpretation of politics as unreliable and not trustworthy. This fixes an agenda from which candidates have to develop their campaigns, focused on convincing others of their commitment to specific groups and willingness to change whatever does not directly affect each specific constituency that is being appealed to for voting. This behavior is replicated even in Facebook, where candidates try to fix their own issues as salient, but usually failing to respond to the media-set agenda. The potential effectiveness of social media, particularly Facebook, would rest in using discursive opportunities emerging during the campaign to construct self-salience, countering the biases of conventional media.
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Using Facebook In Electoral Campaigns

Though it is not the only tool available, the fact remains that Facebook is the most popular social media service worldwide, making it a fundamental component of any electoral strategy since at least the late noughties.

This development has modified the usual sequence of political communication: dissemination of messages among specific audience should produce mobilization, for instance attendance of public gatherings and similar events, and then participation, as in voting, but also as in leaflet distribution, or polling station monitoring: from attention to being part of public events to making oneself available to the candidate for whatever is needed (Downing & Brooten, 2009). In social media terms, this becomes a series of digital actions: attention is demonstrated by “liking”, mobilization is sharing, and participation is actively disseminating or even creating new content as requested by the campaign.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Salience: It is proposed that self-salience happens when a political, social or commercial organizations uses its social media outlet to promote an issue of interest, thus making it salient among its users/consumers. Through this process, these organizations are able to by-pass the usual control exerted by news media of public sphere discussion.

Narrative: It is understood as the coherent, partisan interpretation of complex events that is used as a mechanism to achieve consensus and political gain, regarding matters of public interest that are contested in the public sphere.

Social media: Media designed to allow the production of content by all its users, and to disseminate it to the members of one user’s group of connections, i.e., his or her social network.

Salience: In communication studies, salience occurs when any news or media item captures and holds attention from a group of public, and becomes a significant element of public discussion. A salient item is one that features such properties as to gain salience. Salience is usually understood as the result of news media work, as these organizations decide how and when to promote and feature a given news or media item.

Ballotage: An electoral mechanism in which the two most voted candidate for an executive or legislative position participate in a second round of elections, where the most voted will have at least 51% + 1 of the votes, thus allowing a clear majority of the electorate to support him or her. In Peru it has been used exclusively for presidential elections, but in countries such as France is used for both presidential and congressional elections.

Electoral Campaign: A political campaign designed to promote a candidate for public office, set around and happening before a public poll; such a campaign looks to achieve the mobilization of citizens to make them vote for a given candidate against others, or to choose a political position against another in plebiscite elections.

Traditional Media: For the purposes of this contribution, this refers to organizations and practices usually called “mass media,” addressing the general public or specific segments of it through electronic means, a coordinated, schedule-based programming, and perfunctory public participation. Though it may be accessed through computers or computational devices, traditional media is designed around specific-medium devices like television sets and radio receivers.

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