Selected conference and working papers


Social negotiation of roles on Twitter : analysing journalists-politicians conversations before national elections.

Vobič Igor, Alem Maksuti and Tomaž Deželan

The relationship between journalists and politicians is one between conflict and cooperation shaping citizens’ linkage to political life in specific political, economic, cultural and technological contexts, indicate studies dealing with various research branches – from public sphere debates, explorations of media systems, investigations of societal roles of media and journalism, to news making processes. The latter branch has most thoroughly investigated the journalists-politicians relationship, labelling it for instance as an “ambivalent relationship” (Kumar), “spiral of cynicism” (Brats et al.) or “exercise in powerplay” (Ross). Negotiating the agenda-setting of news does not suggest that information is linearly transmitted from information sources to journalists and then to the citizens, but is rather a complex set of processes importantly shaped by roles, power and interaction. In terms of socially prescribed behaviour of a position holder and in accordance with counter- position holder study identify interplay of journalists’ roles with those of politicians – being “reflexively related” (Fishman) or appearing through “divergent (though overlapping) purposes” (Blumler and Gurevitch). Additionally, with social media and micro-blogging gaining relevance it appears that the journalists-politicians relationship gained additional complexity as more direct engagement of politicians with citizens is at least potentially facilitated online and as journalists are having trouble of distinguishing themselves from the “people formerly known as the audience” (Rosen 2012). “Ambient” communication namely introduces broad and always-on platforms creating various kinds of interactions of different social actors around and within the news. Except in rare accounts dealing with structural interconnectedness of journalists’ and politicians’ Twitter networks, articulations of journalists-politicians relationship on social media have been explored only superficially. Therefore, this paper attempts to fill this research gap and investigate some unexplored questions. How have journalists-politicians relationships transformed with the rise of social media? How have articulations of their social roles and power shifted? How have these dynamics reshaped agenda-setting? By focusing on dynamics between open and often fragmented communication with decentralized dynamics and institutionalized communication practices of news institutions and political parties the study investigates social negotiation of roles among Slovenian journalists and politicians through insights from quantitative analysis of Twitter conversations between journalists and politicians in a month before the parliamentary elections in 2011 and in-depth interviews with journalists, prolific party members and campaign team leaders that engaged in direct communication on Twitter.

Transforming audiences, transforming societies : the future of audience research : agenda, theory and societal significance, Ljubljana, Slovenia, February 5-7, 2014. Download book of abstracts.



Political communication and social media : revolution or evolution?

Tomaž Deželan

Historically, political actors have differed in their motivations for the adoption and use of technological innovations. Technological innovations may have been introduced when there was a perception that the job would be ̳cheaper and faster‘ with such innovations. Still, the reasons for the introduction of technological innovation tend to be much more prosaic, resting on the symbolic value of the significance of adopting new technology, since a variety of actors want to prove that they are modern, relevant, up-to-date, and in line with their competition. This bandwagon effect came under severe criticism in the case of marginal political actors who devised a clear rationale for their appropriation of new technologies. Due to their inferior resource capacity and very limited exposure in traditional media outlets, this type of political actors began to perceive information and communication technologies not just as a mere technological utility but as a ̳game-changer.‘ A set of more sceptical voices of cyber-realists raised growing doubts about the impact the move online might have on the political process. This ̳politics as usual‘ assertion has made the strongest case for the normalization hypothesis by rejecting revolution in the conduct of politics and stressing that the Internet tends to reflect and reinforce the patterns of behaviour of the real world. According to normalization theorists, a sophisticated political economy began to dominate political, economic, social, and recreational life online. Despite the accumulated evidence of the validity of this line of thought, the emergence of social media — in this case, Twitter — calls for its re-examination.

Namely, Twitter as a broad, omnipresent, and always-on communication environment creates various kinds of interactions for actors in the political arena. Research indicates how Twitter emerges as an ambient communication space where politicians and their parties are in constant asynchronous connection with their political competitors, the media, and electorate, where various agents engage in a network of interactive co-constructions of the political arena, and where political actors seek power through a diverse, shared communication field. From a historical perspective, societal conditions that would allow for the ideas of access to and participatory interactions in the political sphere have never fully materialized because of the unequal possibilities of entry into the media field, the uneven distribution of communication competences, and the reduction of public debates as well as the legitimization of dominant opinions created by the powerful elite. Preliminary scholarly findings indicate revolutionary potentials for Twitter; however, there is emerging evidence of the normalization of Twitter as a tool of narrow political struggles. The main question to be addressed is therefore: how has Twitter impacted political communication and to what extent are the existing offline power positions mirrored in this ambient communication environment?

Conference Social Media in Academia: Research and Teaching, Timişoara, Romania, September 18 – 21, 2014. Download book of abstracts.


Political science education and employability of graduates : does Bologna have an impact?

Tomaž Deželan and Danica Fink Hafner

The determinants of graduates’ career success fall into two categories:  those factors under the influence of the higher education institutions; and those factors external to the higher education institutions. These determinants provide an explanatory value to the employability and education-job match (i.e. horizontal and vertical) problems that we identify for cohorts of political science graduates in Slovenia over a period of the last two decades on the basis of official labour market records and survey data. We examine both clusters of determinants (internal and external to HE institutions) in the period since the creation of political science as a study programme in Slovenia in 1961, taking into account the programmes’ characteristics and their adaptations to the world of work, enrolment statistics, cooperation with potential employers, state-profession relations, the associational activity and power of the professions, as well as the important macro determinants of the country’s democratisation and political independent,  as well as the Europeanisation processes and economic cycles. We argue that the main drivers of the current ill-fortunes of political science graduates in the labour market are not only economic cycles or processes induced by the international environment (e.g. globalisation, trends of re-nationalisation, Europeanisation – Bologna reform), but also the lack of self-regulation and self-control of the profession.

DEHEMS International Conference on Employability of Graduates & Higher Education Management Systems, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 27 – 28 September 2012


Election posters as a medium of political communication in Slovenia: an informative or persuasive tool?

Tomaž Deželan and Alem Maksuti

Election posters are a visual means of communicating political messages to a large audience, and they are an important print medium for political communication that is directly controlled by political actors. Posters have played a large role in election campaigns for the past two centuries, and, as a result, this trend continues in many countries today. The legacy of socialism and the rule of the Communist Party made posters even more important in Slovenia, due to their significant function in the propaganda machinery. By employing the informative-persuasive framework (Mueller and Stratmann 1994), we analyse the nature of electoral competition in Slovenian poster campaigning as well as the extent of (dis)continuity with posters from communist monism. Based on the content analysis of 841 posters from the communist and non-communist period, we observed that Slovenian posters in the democratic era reflect patterns of poster campaigning characteristic of liberal democracies and demonstrate a clear break with posters from the communist regime. Those patterns confirm the general assumption that the dominant political actors employ more persuasive poster campaigning, while the less established devote more attention to informative activities. However, the use of posters in their full potential remains to be seen.

The EU Centre at RMIT University with the School of Media and Communication (RMIT) and Media and Democracy in Eastern Europe Research Project (MDCEE) (University of Oxford, UK) annual conference Media, Communication and Democracy: Global and National Environments. 31 August – 02 September 2011 (link), Melbourne, Australia. Download presentation.


The equal presence of women in politics from a party programme perspective

Alenka Krašovec and Tomaž Deželan

Political parties, like other organisations, pursue established strategic and operational goals, their primary aim being to maximise election support, but they do not operate in a vacuum; rather, they are surrounded by a range of different environments. Their success rests on their ability to adapt to these environments, which varies across parties due either to difficulties rooted within the parties or to the complexities of their environments. However, many political parties try to take an active approach rather than a reactive one, tailoring and fabricating their various environments to fit themselves rather than the other way around. Our paper focuses on Slovenian parliamentary political parties and their ability to (re/pro)act in relation to various environments—primarily the general public. By applying quantitative text analysis, we utilised party programmes as indicators of adaptation to the beliefs and attitudes of the general population, which was examined by analysing public opinion surveys. The text analysis demonstrated that the political parties are not reactive to the beliefs and attitudes of the general population but rather to expectations coming from the international environment—primarily the European Union.

6th ECPR General Conference (link), University of Iceland, 25th – 27th Aug. 2011. Colchester: ECPR. Download full text.


The political scientist: a profession in decline? Factors co-determining the employability and career success of political science graduates

Danica Fink Hafner and Tomaž Deželan

This paper is based on the assumption that the career success of political science graduates in Slovenia cannot be fully investigated without taking into account several macro-factors determining the social and political position of political science as a profession in general. Therefore, this paper will, firstly, frame the development of political science since its emergence within a communist country, taking into account four sets of literature: the literature on a professional project; modernisation; democratisation; and Europeanisation. In order to discover what determines the career success of political science graduates in the context of Slovenia’s independence and full integration into the European Union (EU) we will examine previous studies of political science developments, statistical data and surveys conducted among alumni since the end of the 1960s. The analytical framework for empirical analysis focuses on the factors co-determining the employability and the career success of political science graduates, primarily the following: a) the employability of graduates and the positions they occupy; b) the strengths and weaknesses of political science education as perceived by political science graduates in their work place; c) the position of political science as a profession compared to other competing profiles; d) the response to this feedback by the educational system.

Employability of graduates & higher education management systems (DEHEMS) conference (link), 22nd and 23rd September, 2011, Vienna, Austria. Download full text.

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