23 SES 13 B, Media and Politics in Education
This study examines the new role of social media in educational politics and policymaking and explores questions of if, and in what ways, social media advocacy is influencing the political and policymaking process. The interrelationships between politics and policymaking are complex (Olssen, Codd, & O'Neill, 2004). Coalitions arise around a perceived problem or need in society and foster a constituency to address it (Kingdon & Thurber, 1984). These alliances are often fluid. The priority for any particular action rises or falls due a host of factors, including the grit and determination of key actors, the particular combination of allies, and unpredictable external events and circumstances (Kirst, Meister, & Rowley, 1984; Thomas & Hrebenar, 1999).
Social media are adding a new ingredient into this longstanding mixture. Social media are online technology platforms focusing on synchronous and asynchronous human interactions with a local and global reach unprecedented in human history. The Internet and its architecture have enabled the development and use of these platforms, which are designed to support social interactions and give rise to a complex interplay between communication and social practices and technology infrastructure. Twitter is a central element on the social media landscape. Twitter can be defined as a conversational microblog and, perhaps more importantly, it is evolving to become a type of intersection of every media and medium (Dorsey, 2012). For this study, the most significant aspect of Twitter is that it allows the exchange of mass and interpersonal communication features.
Because of the trail of messages recorded on Twitter, social network analysis (SNA) is a perfect means for analyzing the discsusions. SNA is a scientific method that allows for a systematic analysis of the structure of networks as well as the social role of actors within these systems. In this way SNA provides useful visualizations and metrics to portray overall network structure as well as identifying key actors. This study aims to identify overall social structure of political conversations about a major educational reform movement in the United States.
The education reform that we use as the example in our analysis is the current standard-based education reforms in the United States. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are the most expansive reform of our generation in the United States and they are swirling with controversy. This study examines how social media—enabled social networks are influencing the political environment within which policy is being developed and enacted. More specifically, the study examines four central research questions. First, we ask how the CCSS is being portrayed on Twitter? Second, we explore what the social networks on this issue look like on Twitter. Third, we explore who are the influential actors in the Twitter debates and what are their arguments. Finally, we examine the largest question of all: How are social media-enabled social networks changing the discourse in American politics that produces social policy?
Daly A.J. (Ed.) (2010) Social Network Theory and Educational Change. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Dorsey J (2012) Twitter takes the pulse of the planet. It's the intersection of every media & medium, 15 November. Available in: https://twitter.com/TwitterAds/status/269129576318386177 (accessed May 2014) Kingdon, J. W., & Thurber, J. A. (1984). Agendas, alternatives, and public policies (Vol. 45). Boston: Little, Brown. Kirst, M. W., Meister, G., & Rowley, S. R. (1984). Policy issue networks: Their influence on state policymaking. Policy Studies Journal, 13(2), 247-263 Olssen, M., Codd, J. A., & O'Neill, A. M. (2004). Education policy: Globalization, citizenship and democracy. Sage. Thomas, C. S., & Hrebenar, R. J. (1999). Interest groups in the states. Politics in the American States: A comparative analysis, 7, 113-43. Wasserman S and Faust K (1998) Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. New York and Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
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