Sep 08

Landriault, Mathieu et Jean-François Savard (2020), The NORAD discussion on Twitter: analysis of themes, trends and social relationships, NAADSN.

Key military officials in both Canada and the United States have recently raised the necessity to modernize strategic continental defence institutions to confront a new geopolitical environment and emerging threats. We will leave it to strategic studies experts to analyze whether these calls are indeed warranted.

Beyond strategic considerations, it is important from our perspective to take stock of the nature and the intensity of the public discussion on the future of NORAD. Mathieu Landriault has analyzed the state of the NORAD discussion in traditional media and in parliamentary committees. These two forums are strongly influenced by a filtering effect, where journalists (for the former) and Members of Parliament (for the latter) decide who is entitled to voice their opinions or be allocated space or time. Social media, on the other hand, allows for broader participation in public discussions. Further, online platforms have become the main source to acquire information about news and current affairs for Canadians. It is thus imperative to map out how issues of public interest are represented on social media. For our purpose, we want to analyze if the NORAD discussion on Twitter differed from the conversation held in traditional media and on parliamentary committees.

Additionally, we advance that analyzing social media brings forth novel analytical opportunities. For example, the popularity of specific ideas can be assessed by looking at how often these ideas were relayed or liked by other users (by retweeting or liking their posts, or mentioning them). Moreover, studying these practices leads to efficient and useful mapping of policy networks including participants from different backgrounds (scholars, civil society, bureaucrats, governmental departments, etc.). We will provide evidence documenting the policy networks on Twitter which discuss and exchange on the future of NORAD.

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