When Politicians Talk: Assessing Online Conversational Practices of Political Parties on Twitter
Keywords:conversational practice, twitter, german election, culture, homophily, reproduction, punctuation
Assessing political conversations in social media requires a deeper understanding of the underlying practices and styles that drive these conversations. In this paper, we present a computational approach for assessing online conversational practices of political parties. Following a deductive approach, we devise a number of quantitative measures from a discussion of theoretical constructs in sociological theory. The resulting measures make different – mostly qualitative – aspects of online conversational practices amenable to computation. We evaluate our computational approach by applying it in a case study. In particular, we study online conversational practices of German politicians on Twitter during the German federal election 2013. We find that political parties share some interesting patterns of behavior, but also exhibit some unique and interesting idiosyncrasies. Our work sheds light on (i) how complex cultural phenomena such as online conversational practices are amenable to quantification and (ii) the way social media such as Twitter are utilized by political parties.