The Social Network Analysis of a Public Debate about 2015 Referendum in Slovakia

In this Article, I would like to introduce my poster I presented at the General Online Research Conference 2015 in Cologne. This is the part about the Research Questions, Data and Methodology used.

INTRODUCTION

Many authors had already shown that social networks are a great research tool for analyzing current topics (Sasahara et al. 2013). In February 2015, the “Traditional family” referendum about certain legal rights for homosexual communities took place in Slovakia. The actors of the public debate had divided into two major groups: supporters of traditional family and opponents. The goal of the research is to analyze the network of these groups and their activities based on their presence on Facebook.

RESEARCH QUESTION

To what extend did the members of opposite opinion groups in Slovak 2015 referendum interact with each other and among themselves in the public debate in social media?

DATA

The research had already shown that social network theory is a good basis for an analysis of connections between organizations and people with social media data (Hogan 2008). Both supporters and opponents had several Facebook pages (Twitter activities had finally not produced enough data for an analysis). The analysis is based on posts from 2 biggest Facebook groups on both sides. The posts were collected using NodeXL Excel extension, in the period November 1, 2014 till February 13, 2015 (1 week after the referendum took place). The data included the links – “edges” between users or pages, in the form of “likes”, “shares” or “comments”. The final database included 79,160 edges.

METHODOLOGY

The research is a part of a greater research design, which included the use of social network analysis and text mining. For social network analysis purposes, data were imported into Gephi software. The network was visualized, analyzed and adjusted for presentation purposes. The statistics were calculated using Gephi too. The clustering coefficient is used for the evaluation, to what extend the groups are clustered (see Kossinets and Watts 2006; Hogan 2008).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hogan, B 2008 Analyzing Social Networks via the Internet. In: Fielding, N G – Lee, R M – Blank, G 2008 The SAGE handbook of online research methods. Los Angeles; London : Sage.

Kossinetz, G – Watts, D J 2006 Empirical Analysis of an Evolving Social Network. In: Science, 311(5757, 88-90.

Sasahara, K – Hirata, Y – Toyoda, M – Kitsuregawa, M – Aihara, K 2013 Quantifying Collective Attention from Tweet Stream. In: PLoS ONE, 8(4).

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