From the polis to Facebook : social media and the development of a new Greek public sphere
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The objective of this research project is to critically examine how social and new media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and online radio have influenced the potential development or rejuvenation of public sphere, civil society, and public discourse in Greece during the years of the country’s economic, political, and social crisis. The project attempts to answer how social and new media have impacted the public sphere and civil society, how social and new media have contributed to the formation of new political and social movements, how social and new media have contributed to the formation of alternative online news sources, and whether social and new media are considered to be more credible sources of news and information compared to mainstream media institutions. Greece was selected as the site for this research project in response to the prevailing view found in the body of academic literature that Greece’s public sphere and civil society have historically been underdeveloped when compared to the countries of Western Europe and the United States. In addition, the political and economic upheaval which accompanied the Greek economic crisis and the country’s location at the intersection of Western and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, presented intriguing possibilities for research and for examining the role that new technologies can play in the redevelopment of the public sphere and civil society during a time of crisis. Interviews were conducted with over 120 individuals, including elected officials and political personnel, journalists, media professionals, bloggers, academics, opinion leaders, activists, and representatives of organizations active within civil society. Five illustrative examples of organizations with a prominent social media presence, including a non-governmental organization, a political party, a mainstream media corporation, an online news portal, and an alternative online radio station were examined. Electronic survey research was also performed across three sample populations, including Greece’s representatives in the European Parliament, editors of major Greek newspapers, and representatives from organizations operating in the civil society sector. This dissertation is based on longitudinal, multi-year research performed in Greece between September 2012 and August 2017.
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