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Interesting discussion or tiresome bluster? Exploring the social norms of politics among young people on social media

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posted on 15.11.2021, 10:36 by Chapman, Harry

This thesis explores the extent to which talking about politics on Facebook and Twitter is acceptable among young New Zealanders. To investigate the social norms of political discussion on social media, this research has utilised synchronous online focus groups with 27 young New Zealanders aged 16–24.  Participants were positive about the presence of politics on Facebook and Twitter, viewing the platforms as a good way of learning more about politics, although they held quite strong views about the way in which people expressed political views. Through utilising the features of social media platforms, participants had a number of ways of dealing with political material on social media they did not agree with or found offensive. Participants also said they sometimes complained about other people's online political behaviour, primarily offline to people who were not involved in the political conversation.  In investigating both Facebook and Twitter, this research has attempted to tease out differences between the norms of political talk on social media generally, versus the norms specific to each platform. Twitter was seen by participants as a more appropriate place for politics than Facebook, mostly because people's audiences on the respective platforms were very different.  This research has contributed towards a better understanding of an area which has not been well studied, especially outside of North America and Europe. It will be of interest to groups who want to engage young people on social media regarding political issues.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Political Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Coffé, Hilde