Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Information, Politics and Government Communication: Discourse Analyses of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Twitter
by DePaula, Nicolau Flores Vianna, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2020, 297; 27964195
Abstract (Summary)

Government communication is an important activity for society, during times of calm and times of crises. Moreover, social media have become widespread information and communication technologies for government agencies around the world. In the U.S. federal government alone, there are thousands of accounts on various platforms broadcasting multiple messages a day. However, there seems to be few analyses of government discourse on social media. Although content analyses of the posts of various types of government agencies around the world abound, the categories are narrow to specific events or are agnostic about details of semantics and language structure. In this study I provide a comprehensive analysis of how generic and basic functions of speech, and several relevant features of discourse, are employed in government social media messages. I also assess the role of the political administration in office in influencing characteristics of the discourse. Although it is expected that government agencies will use discourse to communicate their messages and will be influenced by political forces, this seems to be one of the first studies to comprehensively discuss how speech functions of discourse are employed by a government agency on a social media platform; how speech functions relate to government communication purposes; and the role of the political administration in office in influencing various characteristics of the discourse. The empirical component of this study examines the posts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Twitter over a 2.7-year period. The study shows the distribution of various speech acts and text features over time and across distinct political administrations, and how messages with distinct speech acts, such as directives and participatory requests, relate to distinct goals of government communication, such as crisis communication and self-promotion. Secondly, I show how changes in political administration, in relation to party, ideology and policy objectives, are reflected in the messages of the agency. I then discuss how other environmental factors, such as bureaucratic and social media characteristics help explain the nature of the government discourse as well. This work provides a window into the mechanics of language use in the context of government social media communication and provides explanations for why this discourse is generated and broadcast to the public.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harrison, Teresa
Commitee: Gascó, Mila, Luna-Reyes, Luis, Strzalkowski, Tomek
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Information Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Communication, Linguistics, Political science, Web Studies, Public administration
Keywords: Communication, Discourse, EPA, Government, Social media, Twitter
Publication Number: 27964195
ISBN: 9798607349615
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