Telegram channels in the electoral battle: the peculiarities of civic activism development in the context of Belarus’s political crisis in 2020

Telegram channels in the electoral battle:
the peculiarities of civic activism development in the context of Belarus’s political crisis in 2020



Article received: 2021.09.03. Accepted: 2022.03.25
DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2022.05.05

For citation:

Zuykina K.L. Telegram channels in the electoral battle: the peculiarities of civic activism development in the context of Belarus’s political crisis in 2020. – Polis. Political Studies. 2022. No. 5. P. 56-74. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2022.05.05



Abstract

The results of an empirical research on political communications through Belarusian telegram channels during the country’s political crisis in 2020 are presented in this article. The paper’s theoretical framework is based on J. Theocharis’ and J. Van Det’s perspectives on digital political engagement, the concept of “network thinking” (V. Kurbatov; E. Pronina), as well as previous research related to the study of the messenger’s role in Belarusian protest communication. The article is based on almost 2 thousand posts in eight crucial Belarusian political telegram channels of diverse political viewpoints. The empirical base was gathered over the course of two weeks, both before and after the election (August 9, 2020). The model led to original findings on how communication strategies of channels and methods for engaging citizens have evolved in light of the current agenda. The study’s principal method was qualitative and quantitative content analysis, with aspects of event analysis. The findings revealed that pro-government channels followed a value-oriented strategy (“similarity mode”), attempting to appeal to common representations of fundamental Belarusian values. Simultaneously, the channels had to reestablish communication to protest in the post-election period, conducting counterpropaganda and “mirroring” the agenda of opposition channels. Opposition channels employed an exposure approach, portraying the existing government’s activities in a negative light and appealing to the common good that would be achieved following the change of authority (“regime of criticism and justification”). Initially, opposition channels concentrated on multimedia “niche” content, frequent updates and the development of methods for mobilizing citizens and delivering necessary instructions. In contrast to pro-government channels, the opposition channels were able to sustain consistent indicators of user engagement due to the established communication policy. 

Keywords
political communication, digital political engagement, protest communication, Telegram channels, elections in Belarus, engagement mechanisms, civic activism.


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Content No. 5, 2022

See also:


Shestopal Ye.B.,
Introducing the section. The human dimension of politics. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No6

Bykov I.A., Hall T.E.,
Digital divide and the Internet-users political preferences in Russia. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No5

Linetsky A.I.,
Variety of political systems as consequence of differences in people’s behavior. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No6

Radina N.K.,
Digital Political Mobilization of Online Commenters on Publications about Politics and International Relations. – Polis. Political Studies. 2018. No2

Shevchenko A.V.,
Stability of political system: homo communicativus vs homo politicus. – Polis. Political Studies. 2009. No5

 

   

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