References (82)


Citations (1)



The Policy Sciences of Social Media

Matthew Robert Auer

Bates College

July 17, 2011

Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 709-736, 2011

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are increasingly touted as platforms not merely for networks of friends and for private diversion, but as vehicles that allow ordinary people to enter and influence the many arenas of public life. On the surface, the disparate and shapeless population of “i-reporters,” policy “tweeters,” and anonymous news web site “commentators” would appear to challenge the comparatively well-defined cast of professional diplomats, journalists, and propagandists that Harold D. Lasswell identified as policy-oriented communicators. However, to illuminate the roles and impacts of social media in politics and policymaking, insights from Lasswell’s “science of communication” must be embedded in Lasswell’s broader lessons on value assets and outcomes. A closer look at the so-called democratizing functions of social media in politics reveals the influence of powerful intermediaries who filter and shape electronic communications. Lasswell’s insights on the likelihood of increased collaboration among political elites and skilled, “modernizing intellectuals” anticipates contemporary instances of state actors who recruit skilled creators and users of social media — collaborations that may or may not advance experiments in democracy. Lasswell’s decision process concept is deployed to discover social media’s strengths and weaknesses for the practicing policy scientist.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: policy sciences, social process, decision process, Harold D. Lasswell, social media, tag clouds, e-communication

JEL Classification: Z00

Open PDF in Browser Download This Paper

Date posted: December 18, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Auer, Matthew Robert, The Policy Sciences of Social Media (July 17, 2011). Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, pp. 709-736, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1974080

Contact Information

Matthew Robert Auer (Contact Author)
Bates College ( email )
2 Andrews Road
Lewiston, ME 04240
United States

Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 9,029
Downloads: 1,198
Download Rank: 12,137
References:  82
Citations:  1