Márton Bene article entitled “Who reaps the benefits? A cross-country investigation of the absolute and relative normalization and equalization theses in the 2019 European Parliament elections" has been published in New Media & Society.
This study is designed to contribute to the debate on whether Facebook is a normalizing or equalizing force in political competition in the context of the 2019 European Parliament elections. It argues that conflicting findings in the literature are due to (a) the lack of cross-country investigations, (b) the lack of a multidimensional approach to Facebook performance, and (c) the conceptual confusion around the normalization or equalization theories. This research tests both the absolute and the relative understanding of the hypotheses in all the visibility-related dimensions (adoption, activity, number of followers, user engagement, and ad spending) in a cross-country dataset that includes all the Facebook activity of 186 parties in 28 countries. Findings demonstrate that in absolute terms the equalization thesis prevails in activity and advertising, while the normalization thesis is confirmed in the dimensions of organic direct and indirect reach. At the same time, in relative terms, social media equalize political competition in each dimension.
Bene, M. (2021). Who reaps the benefits? A cross-country investigation of the absolute and relative normalization and equalization theses in the 2019 European Parliament elections. New Media & Society, https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448211019688