Shota Gelovani, M.A.
Since the beginning of the millennium, the scientific community has been embroiled in debates concerning the political impact of the internet, namely, how it affects pluralistic democracies. Recent developments, such as the proliferation of fake news and the emergence of actors capable of dominating mainstream media attention via social media, have elevated the communicated capacities of the internet to an important point of debate for scholars in the field of political science and communication studies. A relatively newer wave of studies underlines the specific role of social media in political communication and raises questions such as: Does social media have the capacity to inform its users on politics better than traditional media? Can they bring polarized parties together by providing a wide spectrum of facts and opinions, or do they push them further away from each other?
Reflecting upon the current state-of-the-art in the sphere of political communication and political science, this project aims to establish a link between social media use and polarization of the public in a largely understudied post-Soviet region, abundant with challenges in terms of democracy, human rights, and pluralism. Research will cover countries such as Georgia and Russia – two different cases in terms of social media penetration and several primary socio-political indicators – to find out whether the effect of social media, if it exists, crosses political boundaries.