Science and the social media in an African context: the case of the square kilometre array telescope

SOURCE: Science Communication
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2015
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Gastrow
KEYWORDS: SCIENCE, SOCIAL MEDIA, SQUARE KILOMETRE ARRAY (SKA)
DEPARTMENT: Education and Skills Development (ESD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8841

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Abstract

This study presents a media content analysis of representations of the Square Kilometre Array telescope on Twitter by South African users, drawing on a sample of 1,588 Tweets recorded over a period of 1 year from September 2011 to August 2012. The framing of the Square Kilometre Array was dominated by the site allocation process, which focused on the contestation between South Africa and Australia and formed a proxy discourse for politicosymbolic themes that framed the project as a symbol of African achievement. The overall composition of messages is dominated by large media firms, but there remains substantial scope for individual agency in shaping the discourse, particularly for high-profile users and leading science journalists. Microdeterminants also played a key role in shaping the virality of messages.