Public Policy and Social Media: How Sentiment Analysis Can Support Policy-Makers Across the Policy Cycle
Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche
Co-author: Fedra Negri
Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications
Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs for providing data
What is worth remembering:
- Sentiment analysis of social media posts can be useful to policy-makers
- Social media data can serve as fire alarms to record the degree of trust in politics
- Social media data can disclose citizens’ reaction to public policies
- A ‘wisdom of the crowd’ approach to the evaluation of public policies is made possible by social media
This article demonstrates that, in a «Big Data» world, comments of social media users can be used to support the action of policy-makers across all the steps of the policy cycle. It applies a modern technique of Supervised Aggregated Sentiment Analysis to three public policies introduced in Italy from 2012 to 2014: the abolishment of the public funding of political parties, the «jobs act» labour market reform and the «80 euros tax bonus». Results show that social media analysis can help policy-makers to accomplish the following tasks: 1) developing synthetic indicators that serve as «fire alarms» on relevant topics; 2) rating the available policy alternatives according to citizens’ preferences; 3) monitoring citizens’ behaviours and opinions during the implementation of a public policy.
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