Social Media and Electoral Politics in Ghana
About the Research Project
What effects does social media have for electoral politics in Ghana in particular and Africa more broadly? Does it weaken or strengthen political parties? Does it increase polarization and exacerbate ethnic divisions? Does it widen existing political inequalities or help to improve the representation of marginalised communities? How can circulating misinformation be minimised and its effects neutralised in "low digital literacy environments" in particular?
This project seeks to answer the questions above through the collection and analysis of micro-level data in Accra and Northern Ghana. We conducted over eighty interviews and focus group discussions with a wide range of political actors: elected politicians and campaign operatives, party members, youth groups, traditional and religious leaders, journalists, and media personalities. We also carried out a public opinion survey, intended to probe social media attitudes and what makes citizens more or less susceptible to misinformation in four parliamentary constituencies in Ghana's Northern Region.
The research speaks to broader questions about how social media is transforming political communication in the Global South: whether it contributes to a more fragmented political discourse, whether the enhanced opportunities for micro-targeting are leading to an increased personalization of politics, and the extent to which social media groups are conducive to the survival of diverse political opinions in plural societies.
Funding for the research is provided by a Global Challenges Research Fund Facilitator Grant and Exeter's College of Social Sciences and International Studies Impact Fund award.
PI: Dr. Elena Gadjanova (University of Exeter, UK)
Prof. Gabrielle Lynch (University of Warwick, UK)
Prof. Jason Reifler, (University of Exeter, UK)
Ghadafi Saibu, University of Bayreuth
The project has been developed and implemented in collaboration with:
- The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Ghana
- The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana)
- The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG-Ghana)
- The Oxford Internet Institute
- IPSOS - Ghana
Read our first report: "Social Media, Cyber Battalions, and Political Mobilisation in Ghana".
Recent media and research impact:
The hidden costs of social media use in elections: a Ghana case study for The Conversation.
Reprinted in Mail&Guardian, African Eye Report, Africa News, and Democracy in Africa.
Our research was covered by The Ghana Report here, cited here, and here, and discussed in this video clip of the influential Newsfile programme on Joy News.
Meetings and events