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Dynamics of digital constituent outreach and engagement in linguistically divided societies: A quantitative look at the Canadian case

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This article unpacks how legislators in five Canadian provinces turn to official languages (French and English) for digital constituent outreach. In a linguistically fragmented society, use of languages is highly strategic as they can help spread information on political matters to the public and help legislators build support ahead of elections. This article first measures legislators' uses of bilingualism in the digital mediascape with the help of an index. It finds that legislators tend to be mostly unilingual in their digital constituent communications. Second, this article identifies factors influencing legislators' linguistic choices. It tests correlations between legislators' socio-demographic and political profile (e.g. gender, party affiliation, political rank) and uses of official languages. It also determines if the linguistic makeup of legislators' ridings impacts language choices. This article concludes that these variables may impact legislator's use of bilingualism depending on the province of origin and the type of online platform.
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Keywords: bilingualism; constituent communication; digital media; identity politics; language politics; permanent campaigning; political communication

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 0000000449102745 University of Windsor 2: 0000000100188275 Emerson College

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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