My Ph.D. project focuses on social media use (specifically Twitter) by the EU actors and institutions involved in the policymaking and policy implementation process to generate legitimacy beliefs. The project follows the sociological definition of legitimacy; the belief that the authority of a polity is exercised properly by its audience (i.e., constituents and observers)
Following the sociological approach to legitimacy, it revolves around three key research questions. Firstly, the project asks how and to what extend EU actors and institutions use social media to legitimate the EU's authority discursively. This question aims to identify and map the object and style of discursive legitimation claims by the EU actors and institutions. I follow automated and manual quantitative content analysis methods combined with latent growth models to generate and analyze the empirical data.
The second question focuses on the Twitter audience of the EU and asks who the Twitter audience is. The purpose of this question is to develop a typology of the Twitter audience of the EU by analyzing the Twitter profiles of those who engage with messages of the EU on Twitter. To do so, I aim to combine natural language processing techniques and cluster analysis.
The last question asks how does the Twitter audience evaluate legitimation claims by the EU. By answering this question, the project aims to fully utilize the sociological approach to legitimacy and offer a thorough study of the legitimation process on social media.