Les traces de la révolution dans les campagnes numériques des partis politiques en Tunisie démocratique.

Authors: Ben Mansour, Bader
Advisor: Desîlets, Christian; Giasson, Thierry
Abstract: This thesis examines the digital communication practices of political parties in Tunisia during the first municipal elections of the country’s democratic era conducted on May 6, 2018. Agap in the scientific literature is noted on these practices in other contexts than established Western democracies and on local rather than national elections. Moreover, despite the succession of electoral events since the regime change in Tunisia and the importance of digital in political life since the 2011 revolution, very few studies have focused on the digital campaigns of political parties within the framework of electoral competitions. Our thesis intends to fill these gaps by drawing on social considerations to better understand the logic underscoring the development of the digital strategies of political parties in this unprecedented context. The revolutionary phenomenon of 2011 marks a turning point in Tunisian political life and constitutes a period in which digital technology is frequently presented as having played an important role. The thesis aims to identify and understand whether traces of the revolution mark the digital campaign practices of political parties seven years later. We thus mobilize the general hypothesis of sedimentation, which is part of a processual analysis perspective borrowed from geology. It serves as a guide to establish a link between two temporally distinct phenomena: the 2011 revolution and the 2018 municipal elections. The appropriation of the web by political parties is addressed in this research field from anactor-based approach. From a theoretical point of view, the thesis highlights sociological dimensions that are often neglected in works on digital campaigns. By focusing on the profile of strategy designers, the study differs from the majority of research on the political web, which is generally devoted to the analysis of technical objects. The thesis also brings together two distinct disciplinary fields. It shows how the theoretical approach of "connective action" (Bennett and Segerberg, 2012) developed in the context of online social movements connects to the theoretical approach of the hybrid media system (Chadwick, 2013) in the context of electoral political communication. We first paint a portrait of digital strategists within political parties by studying how they mobilized digital tools during the 2011 revolution. We secondly examine their values and perceptions of the role of digital in the 2011 uprising and in democracy. We thirdly examine the strategists’ sources of inspiration, thus trying to understand whether they reproduce digital practices that marked the revolution in their electoral strategies. Finally, we analyze the objectives that strategists assign to digital campaigns for municipal elections. Our research uses a mixed-methods approach. The data - collected through a series of interviews with 27 communication strategists from the six main Tunisian political parties -were analyzed through qualitative (by categories and themes) and semi-automated quantitative content analysis (using a dictionary).The study reveals that political parties that appear to adopt more innovative digital citizen strategies are those in which the sediments of the revolution had accumulated: they employ cyberactivists of the revolution, cyber-optimists and mobilize the digital practices characteristic of the revolution in the digital electoral strategies’ design. This thesis argues that through a process of sedimentation - which would have developed from the revolution to the elections - the legacy of the 2011 uprising seems to mark the Tunisian democratic context. This legacy permeates, to varying degrees, the digital strategies prepared for the 2018 municipal elections through the promotion of citizen initiatives and the exploitation of the democratizing potential of social media. Underneath the appearances of digital campaigns, there are unobservable, underlying logics that are not only related to sociohistorical elements specific to the context under study, but which also relate to the profile of the actors in charge of developing electoral strategies. This thesis identifies, highlights, and cross-references these factors by insisting on their impact on the strategies prepared for the 2018 municipal elections in post-revolution Tunisia.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2021
Open Access Date: 9 August 2021
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/69909
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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