Politicians and Social Media in the Global South

Politicians and Social Media in the Global South

In the last decade, politicians in various parts of the world have invested in social media campaigns, including in settings where a relatively small proportion of the voting public is actually online. Leaders may use social media for a range of reasons including to actively court constituents, to present a narrative on their political program to the international community, or to use the affordances of social media to frame the agenda on a specific issue.

Social media can also present a means for politicians to bypass the free professional media corps to directly speak to the electorate, and exercise greater control over the story crafted about them. After an early phase of enthusiasm on the scope of social media to bring decentralized power to the people, we increasingly have a balanced view of the potential and risks of online behaviour for democratic societies. Today, we see a social media environment in which a vast majority of major national politicians in countries throughout the world build social media presences for a diverse mix of these reasons. What do these developments mean for the future of political campaigning? What tactics have worked? How is the online strategy impacted by ideology, national economic priorities, or political structure?

To get at these questions, the University of Michigan is organizing a one-day seminar workshop to examine contemporary scholarship on political social media in the Global South. The goals of the workshop are to

  1. Track the major trends in the use and spread of social media in election campaigns and in Global South settings
  2. Highlight the cases of specific politicians, parties, communities or political issues discussed on social media
  3. Enable interdisciplinary conversations to appreciate and incorporate alternate approaches towards studying

The event will feature a mix of talks and small workgroup sessions to explore these topics, with specific attention to politicians and political collectives. We invite contributions that are based on original research on studies of politicians or parties on social media in Global South settings using qualitative or quantitative perspectives including but not limited to data sciences, discourse analysis, digital humanities, and ethnographies. 


Joyojeet Pal, School of Information, University of Michigan

Ceren Budak, School of Information, University of Michigan

Ram Mahalingam, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

Daniel Romero, School of Information, University of Michigan


Sponsored by

The University of Michigan International Institute

The University of Michigan School of Information

The University of Michigan Department of Communications

The University of Michigan Center for South Asia Studies

The University of Michigan African Studies Center

The University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North Africa Studies

One thought on “Politicians and Social Media in the Global South

  1. Pingback: Politics and Social Media in the Global South | Michigan ICTD

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