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Social media as public sphere: a stakeholder perspective

Social media as public sphere: a stakeholder perspective PurposeThis paper aims to examine major stakeholders’ communication preferences in eParticipation initiatives and discuss how this affects the public sphere. Despite the potential of social media, it has proven difficult to get people actively involved in the decision-making processes. There is a need for more research on how stakeholders manage and use social media to communicate.Design/methodology/approachThe study was conducted as a qualitative case study. Data sources include interviews, social media content, document analysis and field notes.FindingsCommunication preferences of stakeholders vary according to their salience level. Stakeholders with higher salience are less likely to participate in social media, whereas those who are less salient will use every available medium to gain influence. This challenges the opportunity to create a traditional public sphere in social media.Research limitations/implicationsThe authors contribute to a better understanding of who participates in social media and why. Stakeholder salience analysis shows that in the case of citizen-initiated eParticipation, social media cannot be seen as a Habermasian public sphere.Practical implicationsThe authors suggest two approaches for government officials’ handling of social media: to treat social media as a channel for input and knowledge about the concerns of citizen groups and to integrate social media in the formal processes of decision making to develop consultative statements on specific policy issues.Social implicationsThe study shows that power and urgency are the most important salience attributes. These findings indicate that social media may not be as inclusive as early research indicates, and less active social media users may have power and influence through other channels.Originality/valueThe findings extend current knowledge of the public sphere by adding the stakeholder perspective in addition to existing evaluative models of the public sphere. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy Emerald Publishing

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1750-6166
DOI
10.1108/TG-01-2015-0003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThis paper aims to examine major stakeholders’ communication preferences in eParticipation initiatives and discuss how this affects the public sphere. Despite the potential of social media, it has proven difficult to get people actively involved in the decision-making processes. There is a need for more research on how stakeholders manage and use social media to communicate.Design/methodology/approachThe study was conducted as a qualitative case study. Data sources include interviews, social media content, document analysis and field notes.FindingsCommunication preferences of stakeholders vary according to their salience level. Stakeholders with higher salience are less likely to participate in social media, whereas those who are less salient will use every available medium to gain influence. This challenges the opportunity to create a traditional public sphere in social media.Research limitations/implicationsThe authors contribute to a better understanding of who participates in social media and why. Stakeholder salience analysis shows that in the case of citizen-initiated eParticipation, social media cannot be seen as a Habermasian public sphere.Practical implicationsThe authors suggest two approaches for government officials’ handling of social media: to treat social media as a channel for input and knowledge about the concerns of citizen groups and to integrate social media in the formal processes of decision making to develop consultative statements on specific policy issues.Social implicationsThe study shows that power and urgency are the most important salience attributes. These findings indicate that social media may not be as inclusive as early research indicates, and less active social media users may have power and influence through other channels.Originality/valueThe findings extend current knowledge of the public sphere by adding the stakeholder perspective in addition to existing evaluative models of the public sphere.

Journal

Transforming Government: People, Process and PolicyEmerald Publishing

Published: May 16, 2016

References