Understanding Online Political Networks: The Case of the Far-Right and Far-Left in Greece

Room 429 - Muirhead Tower
Monday 6 November 2017 (16:00-17:30)

Dr Tereza Capelos email: t.capelos@bham.ac.uk

Speaker: Dr Lamprini Rori (University of Exeter)

According to the 'echo chamber' hypothesis, political networks on the internet are fragmented and limiting. Online political communication basically preaches to the converted with little or no possibility to influence opinions, spread new ideas, or ensure a plurality of views. If this is the case, exposure on the web is constrained to reinforcement inside more or less ideologically homogenous communities, and to silence or polarization towards politically divergent networks. However, constant expansion in the use of social media platforms and fluidity in voter choices oblige us to re-examine the dynamics of political networks, particularly in contexts of extreme uncertainty and polarization. Moreover, the popularity of the echo-chamber claim has neglected important functions and dynamics of online political networks such as the relation between network structure and discourse. Whereas, furthermore, we have investigated the types of political structures formed in social media, we know little about the online communication of the ideological edges in the political system. Psychosocial theories and political research on radicalism show that inter-group polarity and opposition are vital for solidifying intra-group identity and trust. Political and community conflict can be exacerbated by the behaviour of antagonistic parties even when this behaviour does not constitute an attempt to affect the outcome of the conflict by gaining advantage in influence or material position. 

This paper addresses these issues by examining the connectedness among political networks on Twitter. We explore dynamics inside and between the far right and the far left, as well as the relation between the structure of the network and political vocabulary. The 2015 Greek political context offers a unique opportunity to investigate political communication in times of political intensity. We explore interactions inside and between political networks on Twitter in the run up to the elections of three different ballots: the parliamentary election of 25 January, the bailout referendum of 5 July, the snap election of 20 September; we, then, compare political action during campaigns with that during routinized politics. By using machine learning and data mining methods, we define a way of identifying advocates initiated by party candidates, explore interactions inside each ideological space and among political opponents, analyse the sentiment and examine the major topics of discussion.


Dr Lamprini Rori is a  Lecturer in Politics at Exeter University. Before joining Exeter, she was the AG Leventis Visiting Fellow in Modern Greek Studies, at SEESOX in St Antony's College, University of Oxford and previously a Marie Curie (IE) Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, hosted by the Faculty of Media and Communication at Bournemouth University. 

She received a PhD in Political Science from Paris I University (Sorbonne), supervised by Professor Jacques Gerstlé. Her thesis "Les organisations partisanes à la lumière de la professionnalisation de la communication politique: une présidentialisation inachevée. Analyse comparative du parti socialiste français et du mouvement socialiste grec" concerned party organizational change by the means of mass communication.


She holds an MA in Political Sociology and Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris and an MA in Social and Political Communication from Paris I University (Sorbonne).

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