Moving Beyond National Boundaries: The Question of Global Publics on Social Media

Abstract

As pressure mounts on the international community to jointly provide solutions for global issues such as climate change, global health, exploitation and poverty, this paper examines social media’s potential to contribute to better global governance. Central to this idea is the increasing popularity of social media that has triggered a new dynamic of political participation and mobilisation. The paper discusses whether social media can contribute to the emergence and consolidation of global publics as joint solution mechanisms to pressing issues of our time. Borrowing from John Dewey’s pragmatist conception of the public, we explore the conditions under which such global publics can emerge. We identify that for a public to emerge (1) there must be a situation with indirect consequences to many, (2) the consequences must be perceived and established as a problem, (3) stakeholders must possess communicative freedom, (4) stakeholders must stand on sufficiently equal grounds, (5) a jointly shared common good must exist, and (6) the participants need to be equipped with the skills that the concrete investigation-process requires. We then discuss those conditions in the context of social media and issues of global reach and conclude by proposing a new framework for governing the shared responsibility for global issues in a cooperative open manner.

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