Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Does Social Networking affect the way policy is created or implemented in Wales

This is a copy of my dissertation as handed in – I shall be adding more to this in the new future with updates and more Analysis

Does Social Networking affect the way policy is created or implemented in Wales


Does Social Networking Affect the Way Policy is Created or Implemented in Wales

I felt that I can now allow my dis overview to be seen 😀 )


This dissertation considers how social media impacts Public policy in its creation and implementation. It will do so by considering whether any of the stages of policy making and implementation are affected by social networking. Social networking has substantially increased in its usage, popularity, and general effect on individuals’ lives in recent years, it has revolutionised the way individuals communicate and share data with each other.  Social networking had been claimed to have been behind the Middle Eastern uprising in both Iran (2008) or the Arab Spring(2011)  seeing many nations across the region have mass public uprisings, the most successful of which being the Egyptian or “Facebook” revolution. In a case closer to home the social networking sites were seen to fuel the London Summer Riots (2011). These events have provided clear examples where social media has been an effective tool for both ills as well as for positive actions, but also at times of political crisis or extreme political change, as seen by the Egyptian example.

As the popularity in social networking sites increases, the question of what impact social networking has on policy creation and implementation is still a raw subject of study even more so considering the Welsh context.  With consideration to gaining a wider picture and clear influence at specific events in time, this dissertation has attempted to apply the question enquiring to what extent it affects policy making or implemented addressing the impact in a Welsh context.

Thus, the hypothesises being that social networking, can and does affect the way  that policy is created or implemented in Wales, however the capacity is limited and mainly one sided at the current time leaning to favour the politicians. It will also predict that politicians at this time fear the power or influence of the social networking sites for various differing reasons. But on the other hand prove to be an effective tool in being an effective tool along with the potential to break down barriers of communication between politicians and citizens. Social networking as this dissertation has attempted to show provides opportunity for clear, open and transparent communication due to the openness of the site providing for a potential mass audience.

Previous works

Research was carried out and found various works that had been considered within this dissertation, the works included two highly relevant pieces of work. Grant, Grant and Moon introduce social networking (using the Twitter site) and politicians in Australia who argue that social networking can assist in ensuring better democracy.  Another similar piece of work has been done closer to home, where Mark Margetten and Ivor Gaber bring forward the debate that social networking bridges the argued gap in communication between politicians and citizens, thus eradicating the democratic communication crisis, polarising politicians and citizens.  The Crisis Theory as put forward by Canning will be considered, “The Crisis Theory” is seen to witness a breakdown of communication between citizen and politicians. The separation of the two groups is seen as detrimental to the integrity of democracy, for the reason that the citizens feel “removed” from the perceived distant people (politicians).

Research carried out had been inspired by the Australian and Scottish example where some of their methods will be used, however this dissertation will take it a step further again by observing actual dialogue analysing whether the politicians are affected in any way within their role as public policy creators and implementers.


This is the first extensive research conducted in regards to social networking and policy making and implementation in a Welsh context. It has collected the most comprehensive list of Twitter Usernames and confirmations whether each AM had a Facebook account. The list was then subject to analysis, gender area they represent (constituency or Region) were other factors considered to gain a fuller picture.

To fully investigate this subject the study of a small sample (six AMs/ ten percent) of AMs’ Twitter and Facebook accounts were analysed considering two months’ worth of Tweets or status updates.  The six Assembly Members selected for the sample were: Carl Sergeant, David Rees, Rebecca Evans, William Powell, Elin Jones and Janet Finch Saunders.  A survey was then sent to all Assembly Members, asking them their thoughts and feelings in an attempt to gain some insight, to what extent they believe social networking has had on them, within their role as decision makers leading the direction of policy creation and or implementation. The “Crisis theory” had also been applied as a method to observe if it relates to the Welsh Assembly Members. The observation of the six AM profiles will be used and evaluated against the “Crisis Theory” in an attempt to explore to what extent politicians act humane and down to Earth or formal and far.


As a whole, most of the Assembly Members, fifty one in fact or 85% had  an account on Twitter and forty one (68%) on Facebook. There is however, a significant difference in the actual usage of the social networking sites amongst the AMs. It is apparent from the results that male Assembly Members are dominant by far on the social networking sites. Though, this is contrasted with the fact that the female AMs within Plaid Cymru are more dominant than their male counterpart within the party.

Overall social networking is used mainly to communicate specific policy being discussed or consulted upon, in which the Assembly Members had provided links which the user of the sites could use to information or response page on a particular policy. Agenda setting is potentially there but is shown in minor circumstances, the other policy process stages are not affected as of yet by the users of the social networking site.

Six Assembly members had their social networking profiles observed, only taking into consideration June and July 2012 activities on the sites. It was found that the AMs are mostly active on the sites, the actual interaction between citizen and politician is practically non-existent.

The survey undertaken had not worked as well as it should have, a small number of Assembly Members had responded. Even though there were limits on time, this dissertation strongly believes that even though time was limited there was enough time and information provided. This as the dissertation suggests is plausible suggestion, that the AMs are avoiding the question of influence the social networking sites most likely due to fear or the lack of understanding. Those who did respond stated that they feared activities such as trolling taking place, thus limiting an AMs caution and presence online, placing more content on the their own sites. It was also seen that AMs are not trained by their political party or Institution (National Assembly for Wales) how to use the sites, as well as how best to tackle trolling. Something that if tackled can prove to an effective method being instilled for the future of Welsh Policy making and implementation.


This dissertation comes to the conclusion that social networking does affect the way policy is created or implemented in Wales. The ability to bring new issues to be addressed by the National Assembly for Wales is in existence, social media has also been used by citizens who have communicated with the Assembly Members to assist sort them. However not enough citizens have been engaging with the politicians but group together with other citizens who agree with the same cause.  However it is done so in an extremely limited capacity and showed that the quality of conversation is more so than not one sided, though this is bettering as time progresses. Thus Assembly Members should attempt to accept open dialogue with citizens, they should also be open to engage more about policy. Effective training can be undertaken leading to the potential for better and more influential use of the social networking sites, from both the top down, as well as the bottom up.