Audrey Susin Audrey Susin

Audrey Susin is the Executive Director for the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance and a recent Master of Business Administration graduate (2022). Her research interests focus on the role of leaders in supporting environments of mutual understanding, considered opinion, and respect across differences to support the creation of more tractable solutions to deeply divisive problems. She lives in Ottawa.

Title: Influence of different leadership communication styles on the quality of citizens discussions online: evaluation of online deliberation in New Zealand

Abstract: Affective polarization is a growing concern as it changes how citizens form political opinions, relying on partisan endorsements and ignoring arguments they would otherwise find convincing. Despite the success of small-scale deliberations to change opinions based on argument strength and develop more understanding of others, how to support large-scale deliberation remains elusive. While the proliferation of social media has expanded the public sphere providing opportunities for deliberation, and leaders using these platforms have widespread reach, they have been widely considered antithesis to the deliberative project. This study explores whether leaders could positively impact the quality of citizen online deliberation through deliberative discourse analysis and whether this was dependent on the online arena. Two leaders with contrasting communication styles were chosen: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern and opposition leader Judith Collins. Two online arenas were included: a national news media Facebook page and the leaders’ respective Facebook pages. The results found that deliberative quality was variable within the news mass media arena; however, citizens displayed higher deliberative quality when the leader did so in the leader-led online media arena. This study suggests that a leader’s use of deliberative talk influences citizens’ quality of deliberation when using an arena where the consistent delivery of deliberative frames, deliberative rhetoric, and messages to support deliberation can be ensured.


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