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Facebook Bureaucracy and Citizen Participation(2)

Facebook Bureaucracy and Citizen Participation(2)

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Published by Vincent Harris

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Published by: Vincent Harris on Dec 14, 2011
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12/14/2011

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FacebookBureaucraciesandCitizenParticipation
ByVincentHarris
 
2
Introduction
Over156millionAmericanshaveFacebookaccountssoitseemsnaturalthatlargegovernmentagencieswouldbeonFacebookaswell-right?WithrecentstudiesshowingwebsitetrafficdecliningasFacebooktrafficincreases,itmakesanalyticalsensefortheGovernmenttoflocktothemammothsocialnetworkinanefforttoreachconstituentsandfosterparticipation.AsDarrellWestmentionsinDigitalGovernment:TechnologyandPublicSectorPerformance:“unliketraditionalstructures,whicharehierarchical,linear,andone-way,internetdeliverysystemsarenonhierarchical,nonlinear,two-way,andavailable24hoursaday,sevendaysaweek.ThenonhierarchicalcharacterofInternetdeliveryfreescitizenstoseekinformationattheirownconvenience,notjustwhenagovernmentofficeisopen.”West’sforward-thinkingbookwaspublishedinJanuary2004,beforeFacebookwasevenfounded.Whilehisidealismstillringstrueamongstthosepromotingamoredigitalizedgovernmenttoday,itremainstobeseenwhetherornotgovernmentagenciessharehissentimentsandaretrulyembracingaparticipatory,two-wayusageoftheInternet.
Theory
“Bureaucraticorganizationsarebydesignself-sustainingreplicativesystems”(Garston).Itisbecauseoftheirinnatenaturethatbureaucracieshavelookedtoexpandtheirreachintothetechfrontierandspecificallyintothesocialmediaspace.PeoplearespendingtheirtimeandmoneyonFacebook,wherethepublicdiscussionoccurs.Inordertoadapttothesehugeshiftsinculture,
 
3bureaucraticinstitutionshavesetuptheirownFacebookpages.Facebookservesasamarketingtoolforbureaucraciestocatertotheirindividualissuepublicandinterestgroups.ThetenlargestbureaucracieseachhaveanindividualFacebookpage,buttheirusageofthesocialnetworkasamediumofcommunicationhasn’tbeenthoroughlydiscussed.ThispaperlookstoanalyzehowAmerica’slargestgovernmentagenciesareutilizingAmerica’smosttraffickedwebsiteandwhethertheyarefosteringanincreasedinterestintheirstatedmissions.
LiteratureReview
Relevantliteraturecentersontheconceptof“e-government”orhowourgovernmentutilizesthewebtoconnectwithcitizens.Alotofthepopularworkwaspublishedintheearly2000’sbeforetheprominenceofsocialmediawebsites,andspecificallybureaucracy’sdailyuseofsocialmedia.Despitebeingadecadeoutofdate,manyofthethemesmentionedwereextremelyrelevantforthispaper,specificallythenotionthatdigitalgovernmentbringsgovernmentfunctionsdirectlytothepeople,whichinturnempowerscitizensandstrengthensDemocracy.NeilGarstonwarnedbackin1993abouthowharditisforestablishedorganizationstoembracenewtechnologiessimplybecauseoftheslowratebureaucracy’schange.Hispointthattechnologies“canonlybefullyutilizedifthesetechnologiescanbefullyintegratedintoanorganizationalstructure”willbecomecriticalinunderstandingsomeofthefindingslaterinthepaper.Bureaucraciesarelarge,lagginginstitutionsthatdonotadaptquicklytoanysortofchange.AsmentionedbyCarolineTolbert,RamonaMcNeal,andDanielSmithinEnhancingCivicEngagement:TheEffectofDirectDemocracyonPolitical

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