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The operational definition of communication styles. A content analysis of Italian political leaders e-campaigning

Delli Paoli, A., Addeo, F. & Bottoni, G. (2021). The operational definition of communication styles. A content analysis of Italian political leaders e-campaigning. Current Politics and Economics of Europe, 32(1), pp. 1-45.


Communication is the core of election campaigns. Over the last decade, the growing use of ICTs have forced politicians to integrate in their campaign sophisticated digital communication practices embracing social networking sites like Facebook and microblogs like Twitter as part of their campaign communication. Social media are catalyst of transforming content and form of communication between politicians and their public. They represent tools for both interacting with a more demanding citizenship and to offer more personalized and direct messages and images to the public using creative strategies. Although some studies have alternative highlighted the specificity of the form and the content of Twitter messages, comprehensive empirical studies on Twitter political communication styles are missing. The study proposes an operational definition of communication styles exploring e-campaigning of Italian political leaders during the 2018 electoral campaign. It carries out a content analysis of 3792 tweets of official accounts of Italian political leaders. We first defined and operationalized the communication style concept. Based on this, we carried out a content analysis. Through a multiple correspondence analysis, we identify two constitutive factors of the communication styles: 1. The content of the message (informational vs political), 2. The type of communication (negative personalized communication vs positive impression management). With the aid of cluster analysis 4 groups of tweets - located at the intersection of these factors - were identified: instrumentalist, intimist, institutionalist and populist.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: social media, Twitter, big data, content analysis, communication style, election campaign
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DG Italy
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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