Social Media and Society 2016

Ella Taylor-Smith presented the paper "Non-public eParticipation in social media spaces" at Social Media and Society 2016.

Abstract: This paper focuses on the importance of non-public social media
spaces in contemporary democratic participation at the grassroots
level, based on case studies of citizen-led, community and activist
groups. The research pilots the concept of participation spaces to
reify online and offline contexts where people participate in
democracy. Participation spaces include social media presences,
websites, blogs, email, paper media, and physical spaces. This
approach enables the parallel study of diverse spaces (more or less
public; on and offline). Participation spaces were investigated
across three local groups, through interviews and participant
observation; then modelled as Socio-Technical Interaction
Networks (STINs) [1].
This research provides an alternative and richer picture of social
media use, within eParticipation, to studies solely based on public
Internet content, such as data sets of tweets. In the participation
spaces studies most communication takes place in non-public
contexts, such as closed Facebook groups, email, and face-to-face
meetings. Non-public social media spaces are particularly
effective in supporting collaboration between people from diverse
social groups. These spaces can be understood as boundary
objects [2] and play strong roles in democracy.