It's the inside that counts? An explorative analysis of Finnish parties' opinions concerning the importance and use of their websites, and website contents, in relation to party characteristics

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    According to one theoretical point of view, the character of a political party, especially its general goals, would be reflected in the contents of its website. In this article, the plausibility of this view, which is called an 'actor-constructivist' view in the article, is explored by means of a twofold analysis. The Finnish parties' opinions concerning the importance and use of their websites, and the contents of their websites, are both analysed for potential linkages to four party traits: party goals, party organisation, party size and type of voters. The data consists of a questionnaire sent to the Finnish parties' leading information officials. Additionally, a quantitative content analysis of the party websites found in January 2006 was conducted. Two separate automatic cluster algorithms were run in order to identify groups of parties based on the questionnaire and the content analysis. These groups were then explored for potential connections to the party traits. The main findings of the study are that the Finnish parties' internal 'view' of their websites does not appear traceable to any of the party traits; the view varies from party to party and can hardly be used for generalisations concerning parties in general. However, the contents of the party websites appeared related to party size inasmuch as the websites of all parliamentary parties were significantly richer on information and more sophisticated in presentation than those of the parties outside parliament. The article also serves to demonstrate the difficulty of applying the 'actor-contructivist' view in empirical research.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)419–443
    Number of pages25
    JournalScandinavian Political Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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