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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background of the study

The growth of modern technology and the ever changing complex nature societies of the world have revolutionalized the way and manner information gathering and dissemination is carried out. Citizens, with this development, have utilised the opportunity created by modern technologies in satisfying their quest to keep abreast of happenings around them. The internet has become the biggest technological revolution of the 20th century with a sizeable number of the population of the world having access to it. It is now the biggest market place where one can find products, services, information, ideas and knowledge at the mere click of a button. The use of these technologies is the provision of efficient, cost-effective and convenient sharing of vital information among the people via online media tools known as the social media. The term social media refers to web-based tools and services that allow users to create, share, and search for content and information without having to log on to any specific portal site or portal destination”. These tools have become “social‟ in the sense that, they are created in ways that enable users to share and communicate with one another. Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social dialogues. The rapid growth of social media activities especially over the last three years is indicative of its entry into mainstream culture, and its integration into the daily lives of many people especially the youths. Westerman, Spence and Heide (2012:201) note that the social media have gained increased usage rapidly for a variety of reasons. News and information is one such reason. The social media landscape might seem like foreign ground and incomprehensible to those accustomed to reading mainstream media alone. The intensity and speed of news items posted online can be a cause of stress for politicians who are forced to respond almost immediately in today’s political climate. Contrast this to the past where politicians would only be required to issue a press release within the day, in time for the following day’s news run. With the aid of social media, there is perfect access to all sides of a story, a utopia of limitless information in a society that was considered shielded in the past. One might imagine so, since alternative media are freely accessible online. In one sense, it is true that a wide range of news, opinion pieces and videos are readily available to the public. On the other hand, social media has also changed the way news is channeled and read. News items are now user-driven, no longer centred on the publisher of the website per se. It is customary for the social media generation to scan their live feeds on Facebook or Twitter and pick the stories that are the most interesting shared by their friends (Yeoh, 2012). Due to the effectiveness of social media in the sharing of entertaining, informative and educative messages, the relatively new media is handy for political education of the people especially the youths who form a greater number of those with access to social media channels. Rita (2012) is of the view that the “new media can have an impact by helping to transform individuals and give them new competencies that empower them in politics”.Also commenting on the effectiveness of the social media for political education Yeoh (2012) notes that the people rely on the internet  and social media networks to build their understanding of political coalitions on their policy positions, including education, the economy, housing, religion, crime and so on, to equip them with the knowledge necessary for their voting decision. In fact, the social media can serve as potent tools in educating the people about the electoral process. The people can be educated about political parties, their candidates and manifestoes. That is, the social media here help in the  formation of the opinions and attitudes of the people as regards the existing political parties, candidates and their promises. Ifukor (2010:82) states that “citizen’s access to electronic social media empowers them to actively involved in democratic governance” In the Nigerian political process, the use of social media became more pronounced in the 2011 General Elections especially among the youths. Most political aspirants in Nigeria including President Goodluck Jonathan, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Pastor Chris Okotie, used Facebook,Twitter, Naija Pals, Nairaland among others to engage the youths in discussing their political programmes and policies. In their views on the use of social media for political education, Adamic and Glance (2005:88) note that “the John Kerry and George Bush political campaign teams adopted the use of blog. Incidentally, Bush’s blog had more posts to prospective young adult voters than Kerry’s”. Ifukor (2010:30) also notes that: “In 2008, Barack Obama and his campaign team also used blogs and Twitter to disseminate crucial information about Obama’s bid for the presidency”. Similarly, Kelly and Etling (2008:15) assert that “the Iranian blogosphere liberalized political discourse in the face of a hostile media environment and Twitter was used by ordinary citizens to provide insider up-todate information about the Iranian 2009 post –election protests”. It is on record that, the recent American President, George W. Bush (Jnr) and the current American President, Barack Obama effectively used the social media channels like the Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc to mobilize electorates particularly the youths to support their political aspirations. For instance, Bvandorn (2012) writes that the social media is acting as a new way for common people to become increasingly educated on the politics of the United States. According to Bvandorn (2012), social media is also a very powerful tool for politicians and that since young political enthusiasts turn toward social media for political insight, politicians also take advantage of this new media market. Today, Nigerian politicians and their political parties at one time or the other utilize the social media tools to provide vital information and education to the people about their programmes and/or manifestoes. That is, the social media serve as veritable tools in the hands of politicians and others alike in providing relevant political education to the citizens. It is against this backdrop that this research study investigates the use of social media and its influence on political education and mobilization.

1.2      STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Social media has served as a specialized platform of modern human communication and is now part of the political culture of most democratic nations across the globe, Nigeria inclusive. Usage of social media is one of the most dominant forms of communication between politicians and the electorate; and it is massively and strategically exploited by the politicians across the globe to achieve their targeted goals as regard projecting positive images, retaining offices, and maintaining relationships with their publics. Social media (Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SMS, E-mail, You tube) have being useful in aiding exchange of information between the political candidates and electorate; it helps citizens to be informed and influence their political choices, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour towards certain political candidates. However, there is serious need for better political information, education, and enlightenment, through adequate and effective/ efficient social media, handled by relevant professionals with strong adherence to their professional ethics and code of conduct, wealthy in experience. The political advert messages should be based on truth and full information that will enable the electorate make wise and better decision that will help to bring the right people into governance. This is because, as many believe, the development of a country is not only on the conduct of good elections but on the acceptance of a favourable candidate and party with great ideology and programmes to govern the masses. If this needful is not taken into cognizance and made the norm, there is no doubt of experiencing desperate political contenders that will manifest with bad governance, thereby, leading to social and economic infrastructural neglect and security of lives and property.

1.3      OBJECTIVE OF THE STUD

The objectives of the study are;

1.   To establish whether social media have any impact on political education

2.   To find out the extent to which the use of social media has provided political education

3.   To identify the ways through which social media has provided political education

1.4      RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

The following have been put forward for testing

H0:   there is no extent to which the use of social media has provided political education

H1:  there is extent to which the use of social media has provided political education

 H0:  there are no ways through which social media has provided political education

H1:   there are ways through which social media has provided political education

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study will be significant to students, politicians and the general public. The study will give a clear insight on social media as tools for political education. It will also serve as a reference to other researcher that will embark on this topic

1.5      SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The scope of the study covers social media as tools for political education. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

 a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study       

b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

 SOCIAL MEDIA: Social media interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks

POLITICAL EDUCATION: As an academic discipline the study of politics in education has two main roots: The first root is based on theories from political science while the second root is footed in organizational theory.

1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study   


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