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LiveJournal Libra: The Blogosphere and Political Mobilization in Russia during the 2011 - 2012 Election Cycle

Project Head: Andrey Shcherbak

Project Participants: O. Koltsova, E. Dracheva, T. Yefimova, Y. Pavlova, A. Shimorina, A. Knorre, K. Maslinsky, and S. Koltsov

The project is being implemented with the financial support of the Center for New Media and Society at the New Economic School.

The research focuses on studying political activity in the Russian blogosphere during the 2011–2012 election campaign.  A methodology, based on automatic methods of downloading, processing and clustering blog texts, helps to answer important questions about the blogosphere’s role in the political mobilization process during the latest elections in Russia.

In recent years, the rapid development of new technologies, including the Internet, social networks, and blogs, has proved to influence political activity and mobilization. In Russia, we can notice two parallel processes: the wide spreading of information and communication technologies, and rapidly growing political activity during the elections. If these two processes are related, what kind of relationship is it? By studying the blogosphere, this research attempts to answer that question.

The aim of the project is to determine the influence of political activity in the blogosphere on political activity during the 2011–2012 election campaign.

The research question is how online political activity in blogs influences political mobilization during elections (offline activity).

Goals:

  • To select topics on Russia’s domestic policy from a whole array of information (the top 2,000 LiveJournal blogs during four time periods: August – September 2011, November – December 2011, February – March 2012, April 2012);
  • To estimate the prevailing sentiment of political textual activity, both pro-governmental and oppositional, for each period;
  • To compare the results of blogosphere political sentiment  with weekly pre-election ratings of parties and candidates.

Main Conclusions:

·        The blogosphere is more inclined to reflect the voice of the opposition than to focus on supporting the government.

·        Political activity in the blogosphere influences the ratings of parties and presidential candidates.


Materials:

1.   Coding sheet for the hand-coding of political posts.

2.   A. Shcherbak, O. Koltsova. “LivejournalLibra!” Влияние политической блогосферы на политическую мобилизацию в России в 2011-12 гг.Lab workshop presentation,  September 4, 2013.

Publications:

1. Olessia Koltsova, Andrey Shchcherbak. “LiveJournal Libra!” The influence of the political blogosphere on political mobilisation in Russia in 2011-12. Paper submitted to New Media and Society. Русский вариант.
2. Щербак А.Н., КольцоваО.Ю. “LiveJournalLibra!”. Влияние политической блогосферы на политическую мобилизацию в России в 2011-12 гг. // Тезисы  конференции «Интернет и современное общество», Санкт-Петербург, ИТМО, 9-11 октября 2013. 

Software:

BlogMiner  is a software product for downloading full-text data from LiveJournal and its storage in a relational database. Developers: S. Koltsov and R. Bachmudov.

Scripts: LINIS scripts for preprocessing and adapting raw Cyrillic data for Stanford Topic Modeling Toolbox. Developer: K. Maslinsky.


 

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