Title: New data sources for social indicators: the case study of contacting politicians by Twitter
Citation: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DIGITAL EARTH vol. 10 no. 8 p. 829-845
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC102682
ISSN: 1753-8947
URI: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17538947.2016.1259361
DOI: 10.1080/17538947.2016.1259361
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Data availability is a persistent constraint in social policy analysis. Web 2.0 technologies could provide valuable new data sources, but first, their potentials and limitations need to be investigated. This paper reports on a method using Twitter data for deriving indications of active citizenship. Active citizenship is a dimension of social capital, empowering communities and reducing possibilities of social exclusion. However, classical measurements of active citizenship are generally costly and time-consuming. This paper looks at one of such classic indicators, namely, responses to the survey question ‘contacts to politicians’. It compares official survey results in Spain with findings from an analysis of Twitter data. Each method presents its own strengths and weakness, thus best results may be achieved by the combination of both. Official surveys have the clear advantage of being statistically robust and representative of a total population. Instead, Twitter data offers more timely and less costly information, with higher spatial and temporal resolution. Twitter, furthermore, provided added insights on main concerns expressed by users over time. This paper presents our full methodological workflow for analysing and comparing these two data sources. The research results advance the debate on how social media data could be mined for policy analysis.
JRC Directorate:Growth and Innovation

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