New Radicals?

New Radicals? Digital Political Engagement in Post-Referendum Scotland

The main aim of this study will be to analyse the transition of social media activism since the Scottish referendum, in order to establish whether the related activism is sustained over a longer timescale, particularly in relation to younger voters. The objectives of the proposed study will be:

  • To map and disaggregate post-referendum social media activity using social network analysis techniques
  • To investigate the discourses and emerging narratives of the groups using digital ethnographic research
  • To investigate the breadth and depth of engagement by conducting interviews with members of the groups (including political parties and civic campaign groups)
  • To conduct a targeted investigation of engagement of young voters (especially those aged 16-17 at the time of the referendum) to determine whether the engagement levels in relation to the referendum are translating into broader engagement with politics

(MacLeod, Case for Support)



    Key Participants

    Dr Peter McLaverty (PI), Reader in Public Policy, Robert Gordon University. Dr. McLaverty has conducted research into public participation in the work of the committees of the Scottish Parliament. He has published widely on deliberative and participatory democracy (e.g. Elstub and McLaverty, 2014; McLaverty, 2014; McLaverty and MacLeod, 2012; McLaverty, 2009, 2010; McLaverty and Halpin, 2008) and has previously been commissioned by the Scottish Parliament to conduct a review of the Cross-Party Group system, and a further review of the role of public participation in the work of the Parliament’s committees.

    Professor Ayşe Göker, NRP Professor in Computational Systems, Robert Gordon University. Professor Göker has over 20 years’ research experience in areas including context-learning algorithms, web user logs, personalisation, mobile information systems, and social media. Her work throughout has had a strong user-centred approach to algorithm and search system design, development and evaluation. She is the PI on Social Sensor, a large EU project, where her team have focused on developing novel techniques for real-time news content from social media in collaboration with journalists (Martín and Göker, 2014; Ailleo et al, 2013).

    Dr Elizabeth Tait, Lecturer in Information Management, Robert Gordon University. Dr Elizabeth Tait has an established track record in interdisciplinary Digital Economy research and is a member of the Communities and Culture Network+. Her main areas of expertise concern the evaluation of the impact of digital technologies on socio-cultural participation and her PhD research was based on the impact of ICT on political participation.

    Dr Iain MacLeod, Lecturer in Policy and Strategy, Robert Gordon University. Dr MacLeod’s PhD research was based on the involvement of children and young people in the work of the Scottish Parliament. He has also previously carried out work with the Scottish Youth Parliament and has contributed to several publications relating to citizen participation (e.g. Halpin et al, 2011, 2012; McLaverty and MacLeod, 2012).

    Dr Graeme Baxter, Research Assistant, Robert Gordon University. Dr Baxter will act as a research assistant on the project. He has previously conducted research into the use of digital technology by Members of the Scottish Parliament and analysis of social media usage for the referendum.

    Dr Carlos Martín-Dancausa, Research Fellow, Robert Gordon University. Dr Martín-Dancausa’s research mainly focuses on information retrieval, probabilistic graphical models and social media analysis. He has been an active contributor for the design and development of prototypes in different projects, such as the Andalusian Parliament project in Spain and the Social Sensor project.

    Paul Smith, who is conducting PhD research into the scope and impact of twitter feeds on the referendum.