Jepson Symposium

This morning I attended the Jepson Research Symposium. It was very interesting to see what types of things my peers have been up to, and it made me even more excited about my research. I spoke with Lydia about her research last summer, and I asked her about how it connects with her upcoming Honors Thesis. It seems that her projects align with closely with one another, which made her research process go a little bit smoother. I also visited Julianna LoPiccolo and heard what she had to say about Al Quaeda and Isis. Her research was very interesting and she was able to provide thorough answers to the questions we were asking her. With regard to her research process, she said that Dr. Goethals was very helpful, but did not inhibit her from exploring any of the themes that interested her. She explained that her process began as an unorganized stream of consciousness, and she plans to keep researching until all of her questions are answered. Although she claimed that her research was very time consuming, her passion and love for her work is most important.


  1. Introduction
    1. Background
      1. What is democracy?
        1. Define democracy in broad terms
          1. Start at roots! Where was democracy first seen? Be very broad
          2. System of government in which citizens elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body or exercise their power directly
        2. Narrow in on Democracy in the United States
          1. What is representative democracy?
            1. History of representative democracy in the U.S.–> Framers
            2. Why did the framers believe that it was the best form of government?
          2. Theories
            1. What are the milestones of democracy in the United States?
              1. Introduce theories about major shiftsà pre-internet politics, internet politics, social media politics
              2. Theories about democracy
                1. Social mediaà increased political participation
                2. Political participation means increased awareness
                3. Anonymityà lack of accountability
              3. Where are we today?
                1. Internet Culture
                  1. What is internet culture?
                  2. Length and Complexity of messages
                2. What is populism?
                  1. Introduce theories behind populism
  • Explain Twitter
  1. How is Twitter Relevant to relevant to politics
    1. What is political participation
    2. 2016 election
      1. What does it say about social media and its role in the political process
  • Is Twitter more persuasive than other sources?
  1. Rhetoric of politicians before and after emergence of social media
    1. What does this show?
  • How has the emergence of Twitter as a key player in the political process impacted the nature of representative democracy in the United States?
    1. We are not electing the person who we believe will best represent our interests
    2. Twitter is more persuasive than traditional news media
    3. 2016 electionà RAPID spread of information
      1. Fake news
      2. Russia
    4. Analysis of Tweets
      1. Content Analysisà specific language in Donald Trump’s Tweets
        1. Who is he appealing to?
        2. How was Twitter used by the general public in this election cycleà maybe analyze tweets from random sample of general public
      2. Fake news
        1. How is social media adding to the spread of fake news?
        2. What does fake news do to democracy?
      3. How much do people really know/care about politics? Maybe relate back to length and complexity of message (Tweets)
        1. What tactics did Trump use
      4. How does this relate to leadership?
        1. Donald Trump is the President of the United States, how did he use Twitter to his advantage?
        2. What does this mean for other leaders?
          1. Look at rhetoric pre and post twitter

Other Sources/ Sites to look at:

Claudia Ajluni- April 9

After speaking with both Dr. Archer and Dr. Bezio, Dr. Bezio has agreed to serve as my primary thesis advisor! I am looking forward to getting started on this project with her. Dr. Archer and Dr. Bezio have also given me several new articles to look at, which I think can be extremely important to my research.

  1. Dewey, Caitlin. “You Should Actually Blame America for Everything You Hate about ‘Internet Culture’.” The Washington Post. November 21, 2014. Accessed April 08, 2018.
  1. Mark Bauerlein’s Digital Divide; Jeffrey Cohen’s The Presidency in the Era of 24-Hour News; Nick Couldry’s Media, Society, World; Ludger Helms’s “Democratic Political Leadership in the New Media Age”; Lee & Shin’s “Are They Talking to Me?”; Robert MacDougall’s Digination.
  2. Jost, John T., Jonathan Nagler, Joshua A. Tucker, Richard Bonneau, and Pablo Barberá. “Tweeting From Left to Right.” Psychological Science 26, no. 10 (2015): 1531-542. doi:10.1177/0956797615594620.
  3. Oliver, J. Eric, and Wendy M. Rahn. “Rise of the Trumpenvolk.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 667, no. 1 (2016): 189-206. doi:10.1177/0002716216662639.
  1. Jost, J. T., Barberá P., Bonneau R., Langer M., Metzger M., Nagler J., Sterling J., Tucker J.T. 2018. “How Social Media Facilitates Political Protest: Information, Motivation, and Social Networks”. Advances in Political Psychology, 39(S1): 85-118.

Methods/Conversation with Dr. Archer

Last week, I spoke with Dr. Archer about serving as a potential thesis advisor. We had a great conversation, and it was exciting to hear about some of the ideas that she had. My conversation with Dr. Archer, coupled with that with Dr. Bezio, has made me more confident in my desire to explore social media. That being said, however, I am less certain than ever about what my specific plan will be. As of now, I plan to take a theoretical approach and conduct my research from the humanities perspective. Dr. Archer, however, mentioned the possibility of conducting an experiment that measures how people’s perspectives on certain issues change as a result of being influenced by social media vs traditional news media (newspapers). This could be interesting, but is something I want to think a little bit more about. In addition, Dr. Archer gave me some great links to read regarding social media’s role in politics. I plan to look at these this week.

As of now, one of my methods will be to look for milestones in democracy. I will start with the Framer’s definition of democracy (pre-internet politics) and take the reader through the evolution of our political process. I will then look at internet politics, and end with a view toward social media politics. I will focus on how we have entered the age of social media politics, and address what it means for the future of democracy. I want to discuss the role of social influence, and I also want to include what we talked about with Dr. Goethals regarding complexity and length of message (what demographic does social media appeal to? Why? How did Trump use this to his advantage?).

If I conduct an experiment, I would like to do one that would involve having people read certain opinion pieces on some issue, and then read social media pieces about this same issue. I will see how individuals’ viewpoints are influenced differently in response to the news vs social media. What factors are more important in this influence? What do the results imply with regard to social media and democracy? This is just one idea that I have discussed with Dr. Archer, but I definitely need to think more about this, considering I have never conducted an experiment before. On the other hand, I have been planning to analyze tweets from the 2016 election cycle. If I take this route, I will look not only at Trump’s tweets, but also at other tweets from politicians, celebrities, and common people during the presidential election. How do these people view democracy and how do the commonalities in their rhetoric explain/refute the theories that I address? I hope to discover how social media has the power to influence more so than anything else.

I will take a theoretical approach to my research, and look at recent statistics that involve social media in politics, such as the amount of Tweet’s that Trump issued during the presidential election or the amount of retweets, etc., to say something about these theories. The theories that I plan to investigate will surround democracy and populism, aiming to answer the questions of “how are we behaving and how is this reflected on twitter? What does this mean?”. As you can see, I have a lot of ideas that I need to organize. This week, I plan to sit down and compile my notes in one place and organize my thoughts in a more coherent manner.


Additionally, I completed IRB training:

-If I plan to look only at Tweets/online postings, do I need to receive IRB approval of those whose tweets/posts I look at?

Meeting with Advisor

I am planning on meeting with Dr. Archer tomorrow afternoon, so I will have more information after that conversation.

I did, however, have a great conversation with Dr. Bezio right before Spring Break. We discussed the possible methods for my research, and one suggestion that I was offered was to look for milestones in democracy. We talked about how I should take a theoretical approach, which I define as being able to use statistics to say things about the theories that I am looking at. These theories will surround democracy and populism, and answer questions like “how are we behaving?” “how are our behaviors reflected on twitter?” “what does this all mean?”, etc. Dr. Bezio also gave me the contact information of a past student who I plan to reach out to in order to gain some insight into her research project, which included an analysis of Trump’s tweets during the 2016 election cycle.

Dr. Bezio also gave me a couple of sources that I looked at over the weekend. One of these sources was a Washington Post Article about how “internet culture” is actually a product of American culture. America, more than other country, utilizes the internet for its “froth and fluff”. Buzzfeed is filled with articles that are light and not necessarily relevant or informative. Other countries, such as France, utilize these sites to learn about politics or regional news. It is interesting to see how America versus France values the internet. The social media phenomena is not exclusive to the United States, but it is important to discuss the fact that internet culture means something completely different to Americans. This idea is something that i plan to address more in my research and I will define internet culture in the U.S. in terms of democracy.

Research Questions

  1. How has social media changed the nature of representative democracy in United States politcs?
  2. How has representative democracy been redefined as a result of the increased role that social media now plays in the political process in the United States?
  3. How did the 2016 presidential election, through Trump’s use of social media/twitter, redefine representative democracy in the U.S.?

Ajluni note taking 2

This time I took my notes by hand, which really helped me think more in depth about what I was reading. Although this article was short, it gave me some good background information about representative democracy. It discussed our modern democracy in terms of mass media, but I plan to look at social media, specifically Twitter. Despite not discussing Twitter, the article was helpful and served as a good starting point for my research.  It did not, however, address my question of how social media has impacted representative democracy.

This exercise was helpful because it forced me to think about my question in terms of history. It made me think beyond my research question, and ask in what ways technology has changed democracy and in what ways will it continue to change democracy. Is there any way to check the increased power of media? This new style of note taking challenges me to stop and think, rather than simply copy.

Honors Notes

Ajluni Note Taking Exercise

  1. Mercea, Dan, and Brian Loader. 2012. Social Media and Democracy: Innovations in Participatory Politics. London: Routledge, 2012. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost(accessed February 5, 2018).

I took notes on the thirty-two-page preview of the ebook Social Media and Democracy: Innovations in Participatory Politics. After last week’s Lipson reading, I made a conscious effort to clearly distinguish the author’s language from my own. It is very easy to copy phrases when taking notes on literature, but I worked hard to think for myself about everything that I was noting. I also made a greater effort to be more concise with regard to my note taking, and I think I did a good job of avoiding copying unnecessary information. One thing that I found was that this style of note-taking took much longer than I had expected. Although time-consuming, Lipson’s advice forced me to think critically about what I was reading, which is definitely something that will benefit my research process. My note taking process is similar to Lipson’s in that we both emphasize focusing on the main points and paying close attention to detail. Although I do not have access to the entire book, this exercise showed me that it will be a useful resource when writing my thesis. (The format changed when I copied it into this post)

  • Preface
    • Various authors perspectives on digital democracy
      • Optimistic- some say that it is improving participatory democracy
      • Pessimistic- disengagement of young citizens, lack of formal (voting) participation
    • 1
      • Initial Hope: new technologiesà improve open and equal deliberation between citizens and politicians
        • Fresh wave happening today, “second generation of internet democracy”
          • Existence of twitter, facebook, youtube, etc.–> more platforms than ever before
          • Moving away from traditional/restricted forms of rational deliberation
        • Citizens are at the heart of democratic innovation
          • Lifestyle and identity politics
        • Social Media Democracy
          • Mass media vs social media
          • Lack of need for professional journalist
          • Most active political users= social movement activists, politicians, party workers and those committed to political causes
          • What determines democratic activity?
            • More fluid definition now
              • Changing perceptions of citizens who are less politically inclined
              • Multitasking
            • Social media= disruptive for traditional practices and institutions
          • Social movements put democratic institutions at center of debate through networked communication
            • Social movements= social media in politics
          • Latest generation of communications technologies has inherent democratic capacities
          • Citizens challenge the monopoly control of media production
          • Vaccari
            • Media organizations promote own political agenda
              • Fake news
              • More important is the fact that mediaàpolitical participation
            • Charles Leadbeater
              • Idea of “mass collaboration” associated w the openness of social media
            • Anstead O’Loughlin and Ampofo
              • UK Twitter debates
              • Viewertariat: “growing constituency of citizen-users who actively engage in an often critical conversation about political content and its expert interpretation furnished to them by the media”
                • Interesting term, may be useful to reference in terms of the U.S. during 2016 presidential election
              • Tamara A. Small
                • Hashtags further divisions between parties, create unnecessary animosity
              • Internet= area for political participation for those who are otherwise unengaged
  • Chapter 2
    • Government control= complex and dispersed
    • Social pressure
    • Political issues are related to popular social movements
    • Growing individualization
    • Personalized politics
    • Acknowledge negative campaigning and the encouragement of populist rhetoric and extremismà fosters celebrity politics
    • Democracy is in constant state of transformation
      • The emphasis on Social Media is a social movement-, social movements actively shape the structural conditions in which they operate
      • So if this is the case, then the increasing use of social media in the political sphere is constantly redefining democracy
    • Digital communication

Ajluni Zotero Bibliography #2 (20 sources)

Although I have not actually read any of the sources that I have found, I think most are promising. I am finding that a lot of the more recent literature on my topic are books, which will be a little more difficult when actually reviewing the sources.

  1. Accetti, Carlo Invernizzi, Alessandro Mulieri, Husbertus Buchstein, Dario Castiglione, Lisa Disch, Jason Frank, Yves Sintomer, and Nadia Urbinati. “Debating Representative Democracy.” Contemporary Political Theory; Basingstoke 15, no. 2 (May 2016): 205–42.
  2. Alonso, Sonia, John Keane, and Wolfgang Merkel. The Future of Representative Democracy. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  3. Auger, Giselle A. “Fostering Democracy through Social Media: Evaluating Diametrically Opposed Nonprofit Advocacy Organizations’ Use of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.” Public Relations Review, Public Relations and Democracy, 39, no. 4 (November 1, 2013): 369–76.
  4. Ceron, Andrea, and Vincenzo Memoli. “Flames and Debates: Do Social Media Affect Satisfaction with Democracy?” Social Indicators Research; Dordrecht 126, no. 1 (March 2016): 225–40.
  5. Gerbaudo, Paolo. Tweets and the Streets : Social Media and Contemporary Activism. Pluto Press, 2018.
  6. Iosifidis, Petros, and Mark Wheeler. “Modern Political Communication and Web 2.0 in Representative Democracies.” Javnost – The Public 0, no. 0 (January 29, 2018): 1–9.
  7. Kahne, Cathy J. Cohen and Joseph. “Participatory Politics. New Media and Youth Political Action,” 2011.
  8. Keane, John. Democracy and Media Decadence. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  9. “Learning From the 2016 U.S. General Election Presidential Debates – Kenneth Winneg, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, 2017.” Accessed February 18, 2018.
  10. “Learning Political News From Social Media: Network Media Logic and Current Affairs News Learning in a High-Choice Media Environment – Adam Shehata, Jesper Strömbäck, 2018.” Accessed February 18, 2018.
  11. Loader, Brian D., and Dan Mercea. Social Media and Democracy: Innovations in Participatory Politics. Routledge, 2012.
  12. Markham, Tim. “Review Essay: Social Media, Politics and Protest.” Media, Culture & Society 38, no. 6 (September 1, 2016): 946–57.
  13. “Online News, Civic Awareness, and Engagement in Civic and Political Life – Shelley Boulianne, 2016.” Accessed February 18, 2018.
  14. Ott, Brian L. “The Age of Twitter: Donald J. Trump and the Politics of Debasement: Critical Studies in Media Communication: Vol 34, No 1.” Accessed February 18, 2018.
  15. Parmelee, John H., and Shannon L. Bichard. Politics and the Twitter Revolution: How Tweets Influence the Relationship between Political Leaders and the Public. Lexington Books, 2011.
  16. “Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age – Oxford Scholarship,” January 30, 2014.
  17. Rishel, Nicole M. “Digitizing Deliberation: Normative Concerns for the Use of Social Media in Deliberative Democracy.” Administrative Theory & Praxis; Armonk 33, no. 3 (September 2011): 411–32.
  18. Shafer, Jessica Gantt. “Donald Trump’s ‘Political Incorrectness’: Neoliberalism as Frontstage Racism on Social Media.” Social Media + Society 3, no. 3 (July 1, 2017): 2056305117733226.
  19. Tucker, Joshua A., Yannis Theocharis, Margaret E. Roberts, and Pablo Barberá. “From Liberation to Turmoil: Social Media And Democracy.” Journal of Democracy 28, no. 4 (October 7, 2017): 46–59.
  20. “Twitter as Arena for the Authentic Outsider: Exploring the Social Media Campaigns of Trump and Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential Election – Gunn Enli, 2017.” Accessed February 18, 2018.

Ajluni Zotero Bibliography (5 sources)

It was fun playing around with Zotero for the first time and I can see why you are obsessed with it! I used the keywords “Representative Democracy, Social Media, and Twitter in Politics” to obtain these results. I found five sources that I believe will be useful, but have yet to go through each of them.


Alonso, Sonia, John Keane, and Wolfgang Merkel. 2011. The Future of Representative Democracy. Cambridge University Press.

“Analysis of Political Discourse on Twitter 2016 Election.” n.d. Accessed February 12, 2018.

“Liberation Technology.” n.d. Accessed February 12, 2018.

Loader, Brian D., and Dan Mercea. 2012. Social Media and Democracy: Innovations in Participatory Politics. Routledge.

Tucker, Joshua A., Yannis Theocharis, Margaret E. Roberts, and Pablo Barberá. 2017. “From Liberation to Turmoil: Social Media And Democracy.” Journal of Democracy 28 (4): 46–59.