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Members of the Scottish Parliament on Twitter: good constituency men (and women)?

Baxter, Graeme; Marcella, Rita; O'Shea, Mary


Graeme Baxter

Mary O'Shea


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of Twitter by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) for the provision of constituency-related information, or in support of their constituency service work. Design/methodology/approach - Content analysis of 10,411 tweets sent by the 105 MSPs on Twitter during four weeks in early-2014. Findings - While there was some evidence of MSPs on Twitter acting as a promoter of local community interests and as a conduit for information on local policy issues and events, their tweets were dominated by the wider, national, political agenda and by the Scottish independence debate. Compared with their online behaviour as parliamentary candidates three years earlier, MSPs placed an even greater emphasis on the one-way broadcast of information to their followers. They were reluctant to respond to contentious local policy questions, or to enter into any visible, meaningful, political debate with their constituents. Research limitations/implications - Although the research was conducted seven months before the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September 2014, the independence debate still dominated proceedings on Twitter. It might, therefore, be appropriate to revisit MSPs' use of Twitter at some point during a truer 'peacetime' period. Originality/value - This is the first systematic content analysis of tweets sent by all MSPs on Twitter. It allows the authors to compare their actual Twitter use with that envisaged by the Scottish Parliament, as a way of MSPs communicating about their work and engaging with their constituents.


BAXTER, G., MARCELLA, R. AND O'SHEA, M. 2016. Members of the Scottish Parliament on Twitter: good constituency men (and women)? Aslib journal of information management [online], 68(4), pages 428-447. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 25, 2016
Online Publication Date Jul 18, 2016
Publication Date Aug 31, 2016
Deposit Date Apr 26, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 18, 2016
Journal Aslib Journal of Information Management
Print ISSN 2050-3806
Electronic ISSN 2050-3814
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
Issue 4
Pages 428-447
Keywords Internet; Social media; Twitter; Constituency service; Information provision; Members of the Scottish Parliament
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