Screaming more, Listening less? An investigation of participation and deliberation dynamics in the Italian Five Stars Movement

David Coppini

Abstract


This paper investigates the tension between participation and deliberation in the Italian “Five Stars” Movement. This grassroots movement has based its activity almost entirely on the internet, becoming a political organization able to receive more than 25% in the last national elections. While its success seems to be a good outcome for democratic participation, the effects on deliberation seems to be more complex. This study analyzes the comments on the communication platform of the Movement, its leader Beppe Grillo’s blog. The comments reveal a low level of criticism towards the leader’s opinions, a high uncivil tone, a tendency to avoid policy discussion, a low level of justifications for claims expressed and, lastly, very few diverse points of views presented. Overall, the implications for political deliberation are not very positive: while the Five Stars movement, through the internet, has promoted civic engagement and participation, his members do not seem to be engaged in a civil and rational discussion, at least on the Movement’s most important communication platform.

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