Internet Political Participation and Public Agenda-Setting: Social Network Analysis of PX Event in Zhangzhou

Internet Political Participation and Public Agenda-Setting: Social Network Analysis of PX Event in Zhangzhou

Shihong Weng (Tongji University, Shanghai, China)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPADA.2018070105

Abstract

There are growing calls for social network analysis methods to be more extensively deployed in governance practice and research. This article develops a formal framework for whether and how netizens change the model of public agenda setting through internet political participation. Drawing on the case of “PX Event in Zhangzhou,” this article aims to explore the social network structure in the process of micro-blog public opinion diffusion in public agendas based on SNA. By introducing the relevant theories into the research of public agenda setting, and focusing on the practice by which local governments do urban governance under the environment of internet political participation, the analysis reveals that the new whole network structure based on new media changes the action of social actors, in which consistently the mode of public agenda-setting is transformed from the traditional one-way to the interactive-way. This article extends the existing research discourse domain of public agenda setting and government response, further generalize the “Queen Bee mode” of government response.
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Introduction And Literature Review

There are growing calls for social network analysis methods to be more extensively deployed in governance practice and research. Rapidly developing Internet technology as a channel for political participation of citizens has created a very different political environment than in the past. As a kind of responsiveness, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) as a way of networked communication has impelled governments to transform the future model of public governance (Roberts, 2005; Tai, 2006; Torres, Pina, & Acerete, 2006; Chadwick, 2007; Garson, 2007; Pina, Torres, & Royo, 2007; Foley & Alfonso, 2009; Meijer & Torenvlied, 2011; Esarey& Xiao, 2011; Barbosa, Pozzebon, & Diniz, 2013). Pina et al. (2007) argue that ICTs are improving transparency and accountability in the EU regional and local governments. Chadwick (2007) also emphasizes the significance of new technologies for the study and practice of contemporary politics and government.

Various scholars highlighted the great impact of the cyberspace on Chinese society (Tai, 2006; Yang, 2009; Zhou, 2009; Yu, 2007). And there are Nemours articles focus on the field of public agenda-setting (Kingdon, 2003; Shirky, 2011; Soroka, 2002; Meijer, Burger & Ebbers, 2009). Research on the digital governance of public sector in developing countries has highlighted the importance of citizens’ E-Participation usage and E-Governance for assuming the effective provision of public service delivery and good governance (e.g. Zheng, 2015). However, we still know little about public agenda-setting under the new condition of internet political participation in China and other rapidly developing countries, where numerous public-sector reforms are under way.

Questions of how to conduct public governance are increasingly focusing on the participation, responsiveness, and interaction of diverse stakeholders. To manage effective public agenda-setting change, this ‘participatory turn’ demands new techniques to facilitate partnerships between policy-makers, citizens, scientists, interest groups, internet users, and business interests (Marres & Lezaun, 2011, p. 497). To address this research question, there is a mount of literature advocating that social network analysis (SNA) be applied in public governance arenas (Bodin & Crona, 2009). Broadly, this literature claims that SNA may help complex public agenda-setting activities become more ‘successful’ (Sandstrom & Carlsson, 2008, p. 48).

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