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Keywords:

  • presentation of self;
  • Members of Parliament;
  • MP websites;
  • campaigning

Abstract

An ongoing theme in the study of elected representatives is how they present themselves to their constituents in order to enhance their re-election prospects, but there are few examples of studies exploring how elected officials present themselves online. This paper addresses this gap by comparing presentation of self by Canadian Members of Parliament (MPs) on parliamentary websites and in the older medium of parliamentary newsletters. It follows Gulati (2004; The International Journal of Press/Politics 9: 22–40) in using nameplate images of MPs in Parliament and their constituencies as proxies for presentations of self as insiders and outsiders, respectively. Specifically, it asks (1) how MPs present themselves online, (2) whether this differs from presentation in newsletters, and (3) what factors explain presentation of self online. The paper finds that MPs are likely to present themselves as outsiders on their websites, that this differs from patterns observed in newsletters, and that party affiliation plays an important role in shaping self-presentation online. The implications of these findings and avenues for future research are discussed.