From everyday conversation to political action

Authors: Wright, S., Graham, T. and Jackson, D.

Start date: 21 May 2015

This presentation examines how, and to what extent, people engaging in political talk in within ‘non-political’ online discussion forums (focusing on parenting, personal finance and popular culture) – online lifestyle communities – leads to political (or personal) action or calls-to-action. The analysis is framed in the context of wider questions of citizenship, civic engagement and political mobilization. To capture everyday political talk amongst citizens requires us to move beyond the now widely analysed online spaces of formal politics. Instead, we take forward a new agenda for online deliberation and focus on online ‘third spaces’: non-political online discussion spaces where political talk emerges concerning lifestyle issues such as parenting, personal finance and popular culture. Drawing on a content analysis of three popular , general interest, UK-based discussion forums over the course of five years (2010–2014), we found that (for two of the three cases) such spaces were more than just talking shops. Rather they were spaces where political actions not only emerged, but where they seemed to be cultivated. Discussions embedded in the personal lives of participants often developed – through talk – into political actions aimed at government (or other) authorities. The presentation sheds light on the contributing factors and processes that (potentially) trigger and foster action emerging from political talk and provides insight into the mobilization potential of third spaces.

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