Social networks as sites of e-participation in local government

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Abstract

This paper proposes that electronic social network sites (SNS) make visible forms of participatory behaviourto which local governments must respond. Groups and individuals ' publics ' operating in diverse ways fordiverse purposes, propagate and respond to communication by local governments via SNS and, in doing so,practice electronic e-participation. In addition to alternate channels of communication, SNS can facilitatealternate forms of participatory behaviour online, but there is little alignment between public perceptions ofthese emerging practices and local government behaviours in the same space. The publics seeking to engagewith local governments on SNS, expect that their participation should be both sought and valued, but localgovernments are active on social networks for different purposes, primarily information sharing. A study ofthe main social network channels of five local governments, in and around the Illawarra region of New SouthWales, reveals that local governments are neither aware of this shift in public e-participation expectations, norequipped to understand them. In particular, certain forms of e-participatory behaviour are not recognised bythe local governments as genuine forms of participation. Nonetheless, there are some promising signs thatlocal governments are making efforts to acknowledge and respond to publics and individuals on SNS,pointing to opportunities for more active engagement between publics and councils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Media Journal: Australian Edition
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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