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EOU Professor Examines Advocacy Coalitions on Twitter

LA GRANDE, Ore. – Colloquium, Eastern Oregon University’s academic presentation venue, returns in-person with a look at the social media dynamics surrounding fracking.  

On May 12, Assistant Professor of Public Administration Daniel Costie will talk about “Advocacy Coalitions in the Twittersphere.” In his talk, Costie will share findings from his dissertation study examining patterns of social media influence surrounding hydraulic fracturing. Costie’s talk takes place from 4 to 5 p.m. in Ackerman 210, One University Blvd, La Grande, OR 97850. The event is free and open to the public 

“I am interested in looking at the political discourse around hydraulic fracturing and looking at how certain topics or issue-frames are discussed over time, using Twitter to capture a larger variety of influential players who’ve influenced policy around hydraulic fracturing,” Costie said. 

The dissertation was originally inspired by the work of Costie’s mentor, Dr. Chris Weible, Professor and Co-Director for the Center for Policy and Democracy at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs. Costie majored in the school of public affairs with a focus on public policy at the University of Colorado and the dissertation is aimed to expand the framework for examining energy policy decisions, especially as related to social networking. Costie’s upcoming presentation will be his first at EOU.

“You’ve got all these people influencing energy policy, are they on Twitter? How often do they tweet? Do they tweet about hydraulic fracturing? What are they saying about hydraulic fracturing?” Costie said.  

Specifically, Costie examined the patterns of discourse surrounding the 2014 ban of hydraulic fracturing in New York state and the resulting social media trends. 

“Looking at how the political discourse changed before and after that ban was pretty interesting. Looking at how the different ways the conversation was framed, the amount of tweets increased up until that ban and then after that ban it dropped off precipitously,” Costie said. 

A key piece of the analysis was the application of the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF).

“The Advocacy Coalition Framework is a set of theories that help us understand how policy is made. The ACF argues that to get policy past, policy actors organize into coalitions,” Costie said. 

Through applying and looking at the limitations of the ACF, Costie has examined the mechanics and trends of smaller scale coalitions and advocacy groups on social media as they relate to larger movements.  

“By looking at Twitter, not only are we able to capture what these big guys are saying, we’re also able to see what the grass roots looks like and look at the discursive strategies that a local community development organization, who may be against fracking, is saying and doing in relation to the bigger players,” Costie said.  

Though Costie said his work was mostly theoretical, he hopes other scholars will use the framework to examine other coalitions and movements via social media, possibly in rural Oregon.  

“I hope people will read it and say, ‘Hey, Twitter is a good way of understanding online mobilization,’ and I hope that more people will try and get Twitter data,” Costie said.  

For more information and a colloquium schedule, visit eou.edu/colloquium. For more information about this and other on-campus events this month, visi eou.edu/may.

Written by PR Intern Garrett Christensen

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