Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Internet, Political Communications Research and the Search for a New Information Paradigm
by Chiu, William Franklin, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2013, 163; 3565847
Abstract (Summary)

The Internet, as a digital record of human discourse, provides an opportunity to directly analyze political communicative behavior. The rapid emergence of social online networks augurs a transformation in the quality and quantity of information people have to evaluate their political system. Digital formats instantiate new categories of actors and new capacities to intervene in political discourse. Existing theories of political communication fail to account for the time lag, speed, anonymity and nature of replication inherent in digital formats. To fully investigate the digital record, scholars need a new framework that apprehends the complex density of a multidirectional political discourse that defies traditional time controls.

Using information and linguistic theory we develop and apply a functional, information flow model that illuminates the conceptual relationships and capacities of people to shape their information environment. Actors are defined in terms of their communicative role in idea exchange and the logic of communication is alloyed with political considerations to examine the scopes of action and immersion scenarios that affect communicants.

Our modular and scalable theory offers a way to measure signal fidelity, node activation, and message branching. We define signaling and amplification schemes and effects and explore the benefits and disadvantages of amplification devices for speakers and recipients. We show how individual actors are linked by the micro information streams they receive and transmit. We are therefore able to model exposure conditions of a multiple input, noisy spectrum for citizens and provide a counterpoint to the simple, controlled environment of agenda-setting experiments.

Finally, due to its foundation in information theory, our framework provides a natural platform by which to organize and develop a research program that uses computational linguistics and data mining techniques.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Monroe, Kristen Renwick
Commitee: Mark, Gloria, Topper, Keith
School: University of California, Irvine
Department: Political Science - Ph.D.
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Communication, Multimedia Communications, Political science, Information science
Keywords: Amplification, Expression, Flow, Internet, Network, Political communications, Signal, Theory
Publication Number: 3565847
ISBN: 9781303161384
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