Bonesu, Rodolfo (2011) Social media e pratiche emergenti di partecipazione: il caso Porto Torres: quando la comunità locale va on-line. Doctoral Thesis.
This study looks at a territory-based virtual community grown up on the most recent platform for online community building: the social network site (SNS). With the Sardinian industrial town of Porto Torres being the local community, and Facebook the virtual platform of interaction, this study specifically approaches the question of how and to what extent territory-based online interaction can impact local political participation and social capital. Porto Torres is a small town in the Italian island of Sardinia currently undergoing a phase of industrial decline. The analysis is specifically focused on a sample of Facebook groups emerged, bottom-up, to mobilize around questions of common interest for the community of Porto Torres. A Computer-Mediated Discourse Analysis, enriched with a Social Network Analysis of the interactions, allowed us to approach the emergence of a “Facebook public sphere”. The analysis shows that the use of SNS can differently bolster the emergence of a virtual public sphere in the local community, the main influencing factors being the original aim of the group, its contingency to the local society, its bridging to institutional political actors, and its exposition to traditional media channels. Concerning the impact of this SNS-shaped public sphere on local community living, the analysis shows that online mobilization does ease the engagement in offline informal politics but involving, primarily, already active members of the community.
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