Non-public eParticipation in Social Media Spaces
Smith, C. (2016). Non-public eParticipation in Social Media Spaces. In: Gruzd, A.,
Murthy, D. (Eds.) Proceedings of SMSociety '16, , () ( ed.). (pp. ). : . ACM.
This paper focuses on the importance of non-public social media spaces in contemporary democratic participation at the grassroots level, based on case studies of citizen-led, community and activist groups. The research pilots the concept of participation spaces to reify online and offline contexts where people participate in democracy. Participation spaces include social media presences, websites, blogs, email, paper media, and physical spaces. This approach enables the parallel study of diverse spaces (more or less public; on and offline). Participation spaces were investigated across three local groups, through interviews and participant observation; then modelled as Socio-Technical Interaction Networks (STINs) .
This research provides an alternative and richer picture of social media use, within eParticipation, to studies solely based on public Internet content, such as data sets of tweets. In the participation spaces studies most communication takes place in non-public contexts, such as closed Facebook groups, email, and face-to-face meetings. Non-public social media spaces are particularly effective in supporting collaboration between people from diverse social groups. These spaces can be understood as boundary objects  and play strong roles in democracy.
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