Echo chambers and social mediators in public advocacy issue networks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The growing trend of politically motivated consumer boycotts and buycotts on social media not only impacts a company's financial bottom line, but more fundamentally disrupts relationships between the firm and its publics, the cornerstone of public relations (Ferguson, 1984; Sommerfeldt, & Kent, 2015). On a broader level, such politically motivated advocacy is a critical facet of civil society with important implications on the societal role of public relations (Taylor, 2010). In light of the significance of politically motivated consumer advocacy to public relations, a multi-phase, exploratory study was conducted. Study 1 applies content analysis and social network analysis to examine how different interactive mechanisms on social media—retweet, mention, and reply—may affect communication within and between communities of different ideological views surrounding the boycott and buycott issues. Study 2 further explores the challenges and opportunities of fostering exchange of diverse viewpoints by identifying new social mediators—the “echoers” who propel information flow among in-group members, and the “bridgers” who initiate communication with political out-group members—and assess the key network characteristics of these social mediators. The findings of these two studies advance public relations theories on networks, intergroup communication, and civil society by illustrating how social media structure and social mediators shape the networked public discourse to facilitate or inhibit conversations between publics of different ideological orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101882
JournalPublic Relations Review
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Intergroup communication
  • Political consumption
  • Public advocacy
  • Social media
  • Social mediator
  • Social network analysis
  • echo chamber

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Marketing

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