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Twitter can't do without traditional media

Published: 28th May 2020 Last updated: 28th May 2020

Erwin Gielens' thesis has been awarded the research master's thesis prize by the Nederlandse Sociologische Vereniging (NSV). His thesis is entitled 'Who revived the basic income debate? Investigating the role of social media in the political agenda-setting process'

Erwin Gielens' thesis was awarded the research master's thesis prize by the Netherlands Sociological Society (NSV). He wrote his thesis for the research master Social and Behavioral Sciences at Tilburg University. Erwin Gielens (29) is now working as a PhD student at the Department of Sociology (TSB) on a follow-up research project. 

"The strength of Gielens' thesis lies", according to the jury, "especially in the collected data. It is socially relevant to know what role social media play in setting the political agenda and whether the political attention generated by public online discussions depends on the network structures between, and characteristics of, the discussion partners". 

Basic Income

Erwin researched how the topic of basic income via Twitter contributed to getting back on the social and political agenda. Basic Income is a radical proposal by giving everyone the same basic benefit. In the 1980s, this idea was popular in Dutch politics in the aftermath of an economic crisis. After the banking crisis of 2008, the idea seemed to be legitimised once again by the social debate. 

Erwin: "If the subject is discussed more by the public on Twitter, politicians will talk about it more. This is also evident from the content analysis. Politicians respond to contributions. Attention is generated. But would that have happened if the broadcast Tegenlicht hadn't stirred up so much? I doubt that."

In his follow-up research as a PhD student, the central question is: how can it be that precisely in a society that seems so focused on activating people without paid work (from the idea of 'work for your money') the idea of a basic income has become so popular?"

Read the entire interview with Erwin on Sociale Vraagstukken (in Dutch).