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Across the Great Divide: Gender, Twitter and elections in the United Kingdom and New Zealand

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Karen RossORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Politicians’ use of Twitter has been well documented over the past decade but few studies have incorporated an explicitly comparative dimension. To explore how political and social context impacts upon tweet content, we analysed the substance and tone of 400 tweets from women MPs during the United Kingdom 2015 and New Zealand 2014 general election campaigns. Across our study, web links, visuals, and references to own campaign were common, though with some notable inter-party differences. A neutral tone prevailed, with positivity more present than negativity. NZ women MPs, particularly from the centre-right, demonstrated a broadcast and highly managed approach to Twitter. UK MPs were more interactive with both citizens and other MPs, shared more personal content, and largely ignored the media agenda. These comparative findings at least partly map onto the concentrated and diffuse personalisation approaches within the equalisation versus normalisation framework of social media. We conclude that region, party, and culture all play a role in the Twitter story, and are deserving of further scrutiny from political communication scholars.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fountaine S, Ross K, Comrie M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Communication Research and Practice

Year: 2019

Volume: 5

Issue: 3

Pages: 226-240

Online publication date: 15/01/2019

Acceptance date: 12/12/2018

Date deposited: 12/12/2018

ISSN (print): 2204-1451

ISSN (electronic): 2206-3374

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/22041451.2018.1558774


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