Liberal Individualist, Communitarian, or Deliberative? Analyzing Political Discussion on Facebook Based on Three Notions of Democracy

Lidia Valera-Ordaz


This study explores the democratic value of political discussion on Facebook using theory triangulation and operationalizing three models of democracy. It aims to determine which democratic model offers the best account of the benefits of Facebook discussions and to explore whether this varies according to the ideology and history of the political party hosting them. An analysis of 2,800 comments published on the Facebook websites of four Spanish political parties reveals that the discussions generally serve communitarian and deliberative purposes and, to a much smaller extent, liberal individualist goals. Results highlight significant differences related to the parties’ ideology and history. Discussions on right-wing websites lean more liberal individualist, whereas those on left-wing parties’ sites favor a more communitarian dynamic. Moreover, conversations hosted by new political parties are more communitarian and civil in tone than those hosted by traditional parties.



Facebook, public discussion, democracy, public sphere, content analysis

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