Use of Social Media by Governments to Enhance Online Civic Engagement: The Case of Egypt

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Work data:

Type of work: Masters Thesis

Categories:

e-Democracy | e-Government | Social Media & Social Software

Abstract:

This research examines the extent to which the use of social media by the Egyptian government in its communication with the public enhances online civic engagement. Its importance lies in the fact that several studies highlighted the benefits of the utilization of social media by governments in engaging with the public. This thesis defines civic engagement as the involvement of citizens in online activities that seek to address public issues through the social media platforms of the Egyptian government. It focuses on the five types of online civic engagement behavior as described by Denning (2001), i.e. collection of information, publication of information, dialogue, coordination of action, and lobbying decision makers. This study employs content analysis. Over a period of 15 months, a probability, simple random sample of 491 posts by three Facebook pages of Egyptian ministries and 2287 comments by the public on these Pages was analyzed. It reached four main conclusions. First, the Egyptian ministries use of social media contributes poorly to the strengthening of online civic engagement. Second, a linear, one-way model characterizes the type of communication conducted by the Egyptian ministries. Third, the content of the interaction of the public with the government provides evidence that citizens are active in exploiting the ministries’ social media to voice their opinions, lobby decision makers, and raise questions. Finally, though there is marginal interaction between the ministries and the public, citizens are more engaged into dialogue amongst themselves. Thus, this research concludes that social media is an untapped communication resource in the context of its utilization by the Egyptian government. Consequently, this study fills a gap in the literature and could encourage other researchers to tackle that topic from its different aspects.