Policy makers, water researchers, and others charged with monitoring public resources are persistently looking for avenues to sharpen their understanding of the water scarcity issue. In order to advantageously inform their decisions, actions and research agendas, a firm understanding of how people view and discuss water scarcity must be in place. These conversations are occurring on front steps and in classrooms; but on a larger scale, they are also taking place on social media sites. This study will examine the nature of these conversations using the social media monitoring platform Hootsuite Enterprise housed in a research-specific state-of-the-art laboratory. The available interface collects all social media posts based on researcher-supplied keywords in addition to scavenging metadata such as location of “poster” and metrics on “poster” influence. This data will then be submitted to quantitative content analysis, and Entman’s (1993) operationalization of framing will guide the research to outline the language, sentiment, and tone that surround the water scarcity discussion online. Late winter and spring 2017 social media posts made in Texas, a historically conservative state, and California, a historically liberal state, will serve as the content under investigation based on prior research that has shown perceptions and behavioral intentions in relation to water issues are influenced by political ideology (Callison & Holland, 2016). The significance of the research lies in the fact that engineers, city planners, policy makers, and others interested in ensuring the sustainability of the water supply need to first explicate and analyze the conversation surrounding water scarcity. The current projects seeks to not only validate the use of social media monitoring in detailing public discourse but also provide preliminary insight into how that discourse is playing out online.
Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of communication, 43(4), 51-58.
Callison, C., Holland, D. (2016). Message source and argument impact on water opinions and behaviors. Paper presented at the annual Water Smart Conference in Las Vegas, NV.