How will Digital Natural first-timer voters affect the Swedish election?

ISK researcher Nils Gustafsson has begun work on the latest NEMO funded project. 

The Viral Vote? First-time voters in Helsingborg, social media, and information about the Swedish general election in 2014.

In research on social media and political behaviour among young people, the focus is often on “new” forms of political participation: for instance, the networked activism made globally known during the Arab uprisings, the Occupy Wall Street events, the Indignados movement etc from around 2011 and forward (Bennett & Segerberg 2013). Or – in contrast – the focus is on how political parties and political candidates use social media in election campaigns (e.g. Larsson & Moe 2012, Bergström 2011). However, these latter studies tend to focus on elite users (Larsson & Moe 2012) or on the direct interaction between political candidates and voters (Bergström 2011). This ignores the often “subtle nature of Facebook politics” (Gustafsson 2012) that goes on between ordinary voters, sharing links and discussing politics under the radar of more public debates.

This year will see two (or rather four) elections in Sweden: the European election in June, and the local, regional and national elections in September. Around 400,000 voters, or 6 % of the electorate, will be first-time-voters. A fifth of the electorate will be under 30 years old. They probably won’t “follow” or “friend” a lot of politicians, nor will they “like” their pictures on Instagram. But they probably ill vote: turnout has risen among first-time and young voters in the last two elections and chances are good that it will be even higher in 2014.

This project will undertake a series of interviews, focus groups and ethnographic field studies before, during and after the election(s) in September 2014. The research will be explorative in its nature: the point is to study in what way young people who are not politically active in interest organisations or parties will take part in political discussion and engagement in the election campaign. How is their decision to vote affected by the information they get through their feed? How do they react to political views expressed by their friends? Do they lose interest after the election or are they interested in the development of the political situation?

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Project updates January 2014

NEMO has formally considered 23 proposals for research projects and is currently funding 11 projects, representing over five years months of academic study. All are led by Campus Helsingborg staff, but include collaborations with academics from the UK, Germany, and Denmark.

  • The Dream of Enlightenment within Reach?  Howard Nothhaft, Campus Helsingborg
  • Communication Practices of Social Media Communities Mia Larson, Campus Helsingborg, and Szilvia Gyimóthy, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • BIKT: Social interaction in organizing processes – the effects of new media  Agneta Planander, Campus Helsingborg, Kristina Palm, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
  • Adjudication as Democratic Practice: Discourses on Court Decisions in a New Media Landscape Marja Åkerström, Campus Helsingborg and Matthias Baier, Lund University
  • Swarming for Democracy – A New Culture in Political Communication Howard Nothhaft, Campus Helsingborg and Hagen Schölzel
  • H@bermas 2.0: The Ecology of the User-Generated Public Sphere Howard Nothhaft, Campus Helsingborg
  • Co-Creation in Visual New Media: Examining the experiences, conditions, and consequences Åsa Thelander,  Cecilia Cassinger, both Campus Helsingborg
  • Role of communications Professionals in Digital Age  Henrik Merkelsen,  Veselinka Möllerström and Sara von Platen, all Campus Helsingborg
  • An Awkward Tool: Social Media and Intra-Party Competition Nils Gustafsson, Campus Helsingborg
  • What Digital Naturals Demand from Democracy  Marja Åkerström, Philip Young, Campus Helsingborg
  • The Gamification of Democracy:  On the democratic socialization of ‘digital naturals’ by the procedural rhetoric of computer games  Howard Nothhaft, Marja Åkerström, Philip Young (all Campus Helsingborg) and Jens Sieffert (University of Leipzig)

You will find more details of each project here.

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Conference Videos on NEMO YouTube Now

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Thank you to everyone who attended the 2013 NEMO Flashpoints Conference held at Campus Helsingborg on Friday, October 11. There are links to videos of all the presentations on the NEMO You Tube channel.

Video: Conference Highlights (30 minutes)

Video: Jesper Falkheimer, Philip Young: Welcome to ISK (6 minutes)

Video: Stephen Waddington: Brand Vandals (33 minutes) Presentation as .pdf

Video: Philip Sheldrake: Influence and Social Business (22 minutes)

Video: Philip Young: This is NEMO (11 minutes)

Video: Deborah Mattinson: Talking to a Brick Wall… (29 minutes)

Video: Peter von Satzger: Youth, Music & Social Media (33 minutes)

Video: Lina Thomsgård: Equalisters, Democracy & Social Media (22 minutes)

Video: Regina Katralen: Secrets of Top Blogger Egoina (6 minutes)

Video: Liz Bridgen: How Social Media Can Destroy PR Careers (8 minutes)

Video: Timothy Coombs: Crisis, Social Media and Zombies (26 minutes)

Happy Christmas – God Jul!

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#nemoconf13 Liz Bridgen: How Social Media can destroy Promising PR Careers


Liz Bridgen, of Leicester De Montfort University in the UK, gave a short and sharp assessment of her research into the ways in social media roles can negatively impact on career development for women. Liz presented a fuller account of her work, published as a paper in academic journal PRism, to the NEMO Academic Conference on Thursday, October 10.







Liz Bridgen NEMO academic

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#nemoconf13 Timothy Coombs: Crisis, Social Media… and Zombies


NEMO Guest Professor Timothy Coombs has written widely on a range of PR themes, not least Crisis Communications. Here is what to do when the zombies attack…







Download a pdf of Tim’s presentationCrisis Zombies Coombs


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Ten Tips for Politicians from Deborah Mattinson


Wise advice.. and not only for politicians.

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#nemoconf13 Deborah Mattinson: Talking to a Brick Wall…





Here is Deborah Mattinson’s presentation to the NEMO Flashpoints Conference – Talking to a Brick Wall… or Why We Need a New Politics.

Download Deborah’s NEMO presentation presentation as .pdf

Deborah works at Britain Thinks and tweets as @debmattinson


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#nemoconf13 Philip Young: This is NEMO…


Watch the presentation – This is NEMO 2013Conf PY

Follow NEMO on Twitter (@NEMOCampusHbg) and join the NEMO Facebook Group.

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#nemoconf13 Philip Sheldrake: Influence and Social Business

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Stephen Waddington mentioned the problems some communicators still face when trying to persuade senior management to accept the changes brought by social media; our second NEMO Conference speaker Philip Sheldrake faced an even tougher challenge with his manifesto for social business.

Bravely, Sheldrake has illustrated the journey he suggests organisations must take to become social by telling the story of a fictitious upmarket brand, Attenzi, in a free ebook (download here).

Attenzi – a social business story shines a light on social business that goes beyond the all too typical homages to social media. It’s a relatively short and easy read intended to help readers explore what social business means for their organization, marketplace, communities and career.

The story is designed to galvanize the organization.

As the tale unfolds, you’ll consider aspects of organizational design, business performance management, marketing, public relations, branding, complexity, and the imminent empowerment of the individuals that make up any and all organizations. In fact, although you’ll likely be reading the book in a professional capacity, you’ll be noting the implications for your other roles in life too.

Perhaps most controversially, the story begins to explore the evolution of the customer-centric mindset that has dominated management thinking for the past two decades.

Here is Philip’s NEMO presentation. Video to to follow.
Social Business _ Sheldrake _ NEMO _ Oct_2013 (1)

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#nemoconf13 Stephen Waddington: #BrandVandals





Here are the slides from Stephen Waddington’s presentation, which opened Friday’s NEMO Flashpoints Conference.


Stephen (@wadds) has blogged about the event, sparking a lively discussion about the relationship between PR practitioners and academics in the UK (read Stuart Bruce).

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