• The crisis in public communication and the pursuit of authenticity: an analysis of the Twitter feeds of Scottish MPs 2008-2010

      Margaretten, Mark; Gaber, Ivor (Oxford University Press, 2012-08-07)
      Twitter has made deep inroads into political communications over the past three years. It allows for endless real-time worldwide discussions, and is increasingly being used by politicians to engage citizens. However, this article considers how and whether Twitter opens up possibilities for gauging 'authentic' dialogue between politicians and citizens. 'Authentic talk' has been identified as 'spontaneous, unrehearsed discourse', and we suggest, in the context of crisis in public communication and its lament about the current state of political communication, that it may be an important component in the reconstruction of political trust between politicians and people. This article examines Twitter's use in presenting to citizens an 'authentic' view of Scottish Members of Parliament (MPs) and its conveyance of trust. In order to identify authentic talk, a content analysis has been undertaken on the entirety of Scottish MPs' tweets (n= 14,066) between 25 December 2008 (the earliest recorded tweet made by a Scottish MP) to 7 August 2010. Using bespoke content analysis software we mine this data set to identify occurrences of both authentic discourse and civic engagement. The findings conclude that authenticity is being conveyed and is quantifiable, opening a new avenue for the study of crisis theory. © The Author [2012].