Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Social Welfare

First Advisor

Richard Gelles

Abstract

This dissertation examines agenda-setting and social policy in the case of intimate partner violence. More specifically, the study investigates the use of social media in the United States as a means of agenda-setting and policy formation. The study employs the agenda-setting theoretical framework developed by Kingdon (1984, revised in 1995). Kingdon proposes three streams of policy agenda setting processes, including “problem recognition,” “policy formation,” and “politics.” The study has two goals: 1) investigates the transformation of IPV from a private trouble into a social policy issue in the US; 2) focuses on the use of social media as a means of agenda-setting of IPV. The examination of social media focuses on Twitter, which is a leading platform with millions of registered users and quantifiable and accessible data for research. The study is an exploratory content analysis combining computational and manual methods to investigate the contents on Twitter. The study uses topic modeling method, Latent Dirichlet Allocation, for mining IPV data on Twitter. Then, the study tests the coding protocol in a sample of tweets (n=900) and tests for the inter-coder reliability between two independent coders. The unit of analysis is each individual tweet. Results show that Twitter reveals the current agenda-setting of IPV in the US, with an emphasis on problem recognition, rather than existing policies, and regulations, supporting resources or social movements. I do not see a coupling or window of opportunities for policy changes for IPV in the U.S. from my sample. Limitations, and implications to research, policy and advocacy are discussed. My study provides an insight that it is enough to discuss about IPV on the problem identification level. In order to set the policy agenda of IPV on social media, advocates and IPV organizations should focus more on the tweets contents related to existing policy, programs, and supporting systems to increase public awareness of IPV, as well as inform policymakers. For a period of thirty years of post-VAWA, advocates and researchers can consider developing social media-based strategies to promote a re-coupling of “problem recognition,” “policy formation,” and “politics” to set the agenda of IPV.

Embargoed

Available to all on Tuesday, December 21, 2021

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