See the abstract below:
With electoral politics no longer organised by social class, politicians increasingly seek to relate to a broad spectrum of citizens and part of their relatability is conjured through more casual, informal performances aimed at cultivating authenticity. The various platforms of social media promote forms of authentic communication by blurring the public/private divide, creating ‘spontaneous’ and instant access to ‘real life’. This article seeks to investigate the informalization thesis (Wouters, 2007) by applying it to data from young people aged 16-21 years in Australia, the UK and the USA asked about the way politicians and celebrities use social media. Findings reveal respondents’ desire for more authentic and accessible politicians, but this was in direct tension with traditional views and expectations of politicians needing to be professional, informed and worthy of respect. Informalization amongst politicians is evident and welcomed by young citizens but persistent traditional views means it also threatens their credibility.
The article draws on original data gathered by Brian D. Loader, Ariadne Vromen and Michael Xenos as part of The Civic Network Project (Grant 201300029) funded by the Spencer Foundation.