The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Marichal: Political Facebook Groups: Micro-Activism and the Digital Front Stage


This paper seeks to expand our understanding the dynamics of political SNS’s by means of a content analysis of 250politically oriented Facebook groups. Using Google Translate, I examine Facebook groups from 32 different countries in 23 different languages. Using grounded theory (Glazer and Straus 1967) and Goffman’s (1978) work on dramaturgy, I develop a theory of a digital front stage that helps explain how and why Facebook users create groups. This digital front stage is maintained, I argue, through the use of four sets of signifiers (expressivity, identity, signifiers and text length). Because Facebook is a nonymous (as opposed to anyonmous) environment, actors can seek to construct “hoped for possible (political) selves” (Markus and Nurius 2006). Political Facebook groups allow for the performance of these “possible selves” through the formation of idealized political identities. In the conclusion, I discuss the implications of SNS applications like Facebook groups for the future of digital citizenship.

Jose Marichal