Influence of twitter hashtags on the formation of public opinion on socio-political issues in Kenya

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dc.contributor.author Munuku, Anne Wangari
dc.date.accessioned 2019-02-05T12:59:32Z
dc.date.available 2019-02-05T12:59:32Z
dc.date.issued 2019-02-05
dc.identifier.citation MunukuAW2019 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/4899
dc.description Doctor of Philosophy in Mass Communication en_US
dc.description.abstract Using hashtags, an in-text tag symbolized as #, has become a common feature in social media discourse globally. The study investigated the influence of the hashtag revolution on the formation of public opinion on socio-political issues in Kenya. The study examined how the public is using Twitter to disseminate information on various social and political issues by incorporating hashtags in their tweets. The research focused on how hashtags are influencing public opinion formation in social and political issues among Kenyans through a discourse analysis of the Twitter conversations (tweets) and interviews. Hashtags in Kenya are formulated by ordinary citizens and other groups like bloggers and activists besides the media practitioners, to direct public debate on issues of national importance. The main objective of the research was to examine the influence of the hashtag revolution in Kenya on the formation of public opinion on socio-political issues. This study was guided by four specific objectives, which include: to establish the influence of the framing of the hashtag on the formation of public opinion, to explain the influence of the actors of the hashtag on formation of public opinion, to determine the influence of the context in which a hashtag is formed on the formation of public opinion and to find out the influence of the nature of the hashtag discourse on the formation of public opinion. The study was guided by two theories, the framing theory and the participatory communication theory. The study adopted the mixed method research design. The study population consisted of an indefinite number of hashtags generated by Kenyans in the period between January 2014 and March 2017, media practitioners from the local television stations and members of public involved in hashtag development. Purposive sampling was used to select Kenyans on Twitter and 35 hashtags, while snowball sampling was used to select two independent hashtag developers. Five television stations were investigated. A total of 22 journalists from the five stations involved in digital/online journalism were interviewed. The researcher also interviewed 4 independent hashtag developers and ten Kenyans on Twitter (KOT). Qualitative data for the research was collected through interviews and the streaming of tweets under the selected hashtags. Data from interviews was transcribed and organized using content analysis. Analysis and interpretation was done using critical discourse analysis. The quantitative and qualitative data mined from Twitter was coded using determined themes and organized using content analysis. Description and narration of the results was done. Findings indicated that the four independent variables, that is, framing, context, actors and nature of hashtag discourse had significant influence on the formation of public opinion on sociopolitical issues in Kenya. A regression analysis of the four variables was done and the results indicated that framing of a hashtag was the most influential variable in public opinion formation. The conclusion of the study was that framing, context, nature of discourse and the actors in the hashtag discourse influenced formation of public opinion on socio-political issues in Kenya. A key finding of the study was that the Kenyans were using the hashtag as a form of discursive resistance where the ordinary citizens get to dialogue, diagnose problems, suggest solutions and even organize protests guided by a single hashtag. The research concluded that there is indeed a paradigm shift as far as gatekeeping, agenda setting, priming and framing of news is concerned with the ordinary citizen taking up this traditional role of the media by creating, disseminating and gatewatching news in online platforms. The media have adopted the use of hashtags to keep up with citizens online in almost all TV programmes. The online community has become a major source of news for the media. For media practitioners and policy makers, the study recommends that hashtags continue being used as a genre of communication as they appeal to the public and formulators should emphasize more the framing of the hashtag. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Prof. Hellen Mberia JKUAT, Kenya Dr. John Ndavula, PhD ST. Paul’s University, Kenya en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher JKUAT-COHRED en_US
dc.subject twitter hashtags en_US
dc.subject public opinion en_US
dc.subject socio-political issues in Kenya en_US
dc.title Influence of twitter hashtags on the formation of public opinion on socio-political issues in Kenya en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US


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