Social Media Strategies of Political Power: An Analysis of the Ruling Party in Turkey

Social Media Strategies of Political Power: An Analysis of the Ruling Party in Turkey

Hakan Yüksel
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7472-3.ch016
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This chapter analyzes the social media strategies of political power focusing on Turkey. By using inner-circle and outer-circle conceptualizations, it shows that the ruling party in Turkey simultaneously prevents and embraces social media in order to consolidate its power. The inner-circle strategies consist of practices facilitating an efficient use of social media whereas the outer-circle strategies are composed of judicial and technical measures to obstruct the democratic use of social media. By stressing that political power can also use social media efficiently, the chapter contributes to the literature in which social media is generally associated with emancipatory initiatives and the strategies of power are mostly explored in terms of restrictive measures. The chapter also describes the strategic role of social media in the increasingly violent power struggle in Turkey and the difficulties of using it in advocacy campaigns.
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Social Media In The Literature

The distinctive aspect of social media literature is the contrast between techno-optimists and techno-pessimists (Gerbaudo, 2012, pp. 5-9; Fuchs, 2012a, pp. 777-779). While the optimists claim that social media strengthens democracy and facilitates emancipation, pessimists argue the opposite. With a unidimensional perspective, both approaches represent extreme positions regarding social media.

The optimistic literature can be categorized into two branches according to the focus of their research. The first branch explores the role of social media in institutional politics and emphasizes that it can be useful in broadening public discussion and participation in political processes. Given that social media platforms empowered by the interactive technology provide more opportunities for users to manage the Internet content and communication, it is underscored that people are able to affect political party strategies and policies by producing and disseminating their messages on the Internet, and candidates can have a direct contact with their electorate (McNair, 2011, p. xviii; Williams and Gulati, 2007; Vergeer, Hermans & Sams, 2011; Vergeer, 2012 p. 10; Demirhan, 2014, pp. 286-287). The success of 2008 Obama campaign in using social media during the presidential race of the USA is particularly emphasized in this literature.

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