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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/27428

Title: A primary definer online: the construction and propagation of a think tank’s authority on social media
Authors: Anstead, Nick
Chadwick, Andrew
Keywords: Austerity
Authority signalling
Economic policy
Journalism
News
Power
Social media
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Sage © The Author(s)
Citation: ANSTEAD, N. and CHADWICK, A., 2018. A primary definer online: the construction and propagation of a think tank’s authority on social media. Media, Culture & Society, 40(2), pp. 246 –266.
Abstract: Who has power in the construction of economic news in the United Kingdom? Are social media reshaping how this power is enabled? We examine the public Twitter interactions between journalists, political elites and, what is arguably the United Kingdom’s most important think tank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), during the 2015 UK general election campaign. Combining human-coded content analysis and network analysis of Twitter discourse about the IFS during a 38-day period, we explain how and why the authority of this think tank is being translated to social media. We develop a new, social media theory of ‘primary definers’ and show how the political authority on which such roles rest is co-constructed and propagated by professional journalists and political elites. Central to this process is a behaviour we conceptualize and measure: authority signalling. Our findings call into question some of the more sanguine generalizations about social media’s contribution to pluralist democracy. Given the dominance of public service broadcasters in the processes we identify, we argue that, despite the growth of social media, there can be surprising limits on the extent to which contemporary media systems help citizens gain information about the assumptions underlying economic policy.
Description: This article was published in the journal Media, Culture & Society [SAGE © the Authors] and the definitive version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443717707341
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1177/0163443717707341
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/27428
Publisher Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443717707341
ISSN: 0163-4437
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies)

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