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Nils Gustafsson (2020)

Nils Gustafsson

elite networks, political communication & social media

Nils Gustafsson (2020)

Elite and non-elite agenda-setting on Twitter: the case of #almedalen 2018


  • Nils Gustafsson
  • Jakob Svensson
  • Anders Olof Larsson

Summary, in English

In this paper, we study activity on Twitter in relation to the Swedish political festival Almedalsveckan, a week-long event where political parties, interest organizations, corporations and other actors for decades have gathered on the island of Gotland to discuss politics and public affairs. In 2018, a total of 4311 events (speeches, seminars, debates etc.) were arranged by 1929 separate actors and attended by an estimated number of 45 000 unique visitors (Almedalsveckan, 2018). The intensive news reporting and public debates surrounding it have been shown to have a crucial effect on the political agenda-setting, pivotal during an election year, as in 2018 (Wendt, 2012; Östberg, 2013). The event has spawned counterparts in the other Nordic countries: Folkemødet (Denmark). Arendalsuka (Norway), Suomiareena (Finland) and Fundur Fólksins (Iceland). The Nordic political festivals are events that take place at a physical site at a certain point in time, but they are also mediated through a plethora of media channels and platforms.

Twitter and social media in general have been posited as important channels in so-called inter-media agenda-setting (Vliegenhart and Walgrave, 2008), a process in which news coverage in one platform/ channel influences the agenda in another channel/platform. Some argue that power over the agenda is displaced from traditional mass media (telling its audience what issues they should consider), to social media users who tell their networks (including the traditional mass media) what issues they consider important (Delwiche 2005). Such statements might be somewhat exaggerated, but it is relatively well-established that in a hybrid media setting social media and traditional media interact in intricate ways, providing more opportunities for “non-elite interventions” (Chadwick, 2017). Almedalsveckan is an event dominated by established elite actors, but with opportunities for non-elite actors to make intrusions in the agenda-setting process. The agenda-setting attempts in relation to Almedalsveckan on Twitter thus becomes interesting both in relation to agenda-setting in other channels, and as a study object in its own right.

In order to study these issues, we collected all tweets (N=104 173) containing the hashtag #almedalen during 1-8 July, 2018 (ie during the event). Preliminary results indicate that whereas communication tend to revolve around elite actors, reflecting the dominating presence of establishment organizations in Almedalen, the most active users and user networks represent non-elite actors. Of special interest is the discussions on Twitter, dominated by non-elite actors, indicating a large attention given to the presence of right-wing extremists and Nazis at the event. The results form the basis for a discussion on the interaction between elite and non-elite actors in agenda-setting in a hybrid media system.


  • Institutionen för strategisk kommunikation








  • Media and Communications
  • Political Science


  • Almedalen
  • agenda-setting
  • social media
  • hybrid media

Conference name


Conference date

2019-08-21 - 2019-08-23

Conference place

Malmö, Sweden