Dynamics of opinion formation and group polarization in online communities in China and Denmark (Dynamics of opinion formation)
The ongoing bilateral research project “Dynamics of opinion formation and group polarization in online communities in China and Denmark” in 2014 has been focusing on analysing the patterns of opinion interaction on a sample of Chinese social media platform (Yang & Medaglia, 2014). The specific focus of the quantitative data collection and analysis has been on the phenomenon of opinion polarization; this approach has begun to be integrated with qualitative data collection through interviews to Chinese social media users, to start to uncover the user values and motivations behind the observed online behaviour.Within this established course of research, the PhD project will extend the investigation area, by specifically focusing on digital interactions within e-government initiatives. It will thus deepen two specific aspects of the project:1. Unboxing the uniqueness of digital interactions in a public sector framework. The PhD project will be specifically focused on understanding how users engage in digitally-mediated interactions that occur within platforms managed, moderated, and/or framed by governmental agencies, and on topics in which individuals as users of public e-government services have a stake. Building on the current progress of the 2014 bilateral research activity that has focused on the phenomenon of group polarization and its perceptions by the users, this PhD project will aim at singling out the relationship between public agencies, citizens as users, and the characteristics of the different digital platforms.2. Deepening the qualitative insights into values and interpretations as embodied in the observed user behaviour. Drawing on the initial insights provided by a first set of survey data and semi-structured interview, the PhD project will aim at extending the qualitative insights into factors shaping user behaviour on social media for e-government. The methodological approaches to achieve these objectives will include fieldwork of classic and digital etnography (Murthy, 2008; Taylor, 2012), participant observation, and in-depth interviews.
Fudan University, Tongji University