The Twitter posts of the Brexit campaigns: A comparative assessment

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: This thesis discusses what some commentators and academics regard as one of the most contentious political issues of the 21st century: The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, now known as Brexit. As Goodwin and Ford explain, the United Kingdom’s decision to vote to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum ‘sent shockwaves around the world, rocking financial markets and rekindling global debates about the power of populism and nationalism, as well as the long-term viability of the EU. Aside from calling attention to challenges to mainstream liberal democracy and international integration, the vote for Brexit also highlights the deepening political divides that cut across traditional party lines in Britain and now threaten to further destabilize an already crumbling two-party system’ (2017: 17). It is this topic, something which sent shockwaves around the world, impacted on the financial markets and rekindled ideological debates many thought of as closed, which is studied here. This study takes the form of a comparative assessment of the two official Brexit campaigns’ Twitter accounts, making use of the interpretivist paradigm. Whilst this thesis does conclude that the successful leave campaign - Vote Leave - did run an effective campaign, this is perhaps not the most striking conclusion of the thesis. Instead, it is the poor quality of the Stronger In campaign (the campaign that was in many ways the favourite to win the referendum) and the failure to take advantage of the opportunities offered by social media. This failure by Stronger In to engage on Twitter in a way comparable to Vote Leave - through nearly every metric illustrated in section 5 of this thesis - is a stark discovery, and one which perhaps warrants more research, both through sampling further tweets and potentially undertaking a similar, Facebook-based study.

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