Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Epistemology of Social Networks, Public Opinion and Theory of Agenda

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Epistemology of Social Networks, Public Opinion and Theory of Agenda

Article excerpt


Social networks act in the public sphere and in the institution of democratic practices in social development, in establishing the agenda with issues more inclusive and representative of society. Thus, citizens recognize themselves in the decision-making process more fair and democratic. What is the strength of the passions and emotions on the connection on social networks or even the role of public opinion and the theory of agenda in the network society? Firstly, we present the epistemology of social networks, which describes the changes concerning the new online social media. Secondly, we will look at public opinion, in accordance with the principle of publicity of Kant, the contradiction in Hegel, public opinion and the principle of usefulness in J. S. Mill. Hume's theory of mind and the neuroscientific study of Antonio R. Damásio expose the relevance of perceptions, passions and emotions for decision-making and the connection on social networks. Finally, we present the theory of agenda from Maxwell McCombs, demonstrating the conventional agenda (unique agenda) as opposed to the agenda of social media (plural agenda). Some current facts, such as the uprisings of peoples, social movements and the emergence of social networking, renew the challenge of sustainability and learning on social networks.

Key words: Epistemology; Social networks; Public opinion; Theory of agenda


We live in a transition that incorporates the Internet as a communication medium. This causes changes in journalism because it implies the inclusion of the public in the media, in online interactions. Before the internet, we had radio, newspaper and television as principal forms of mass communication. These platforms maintained a vertical relationship with those who consumed the information. The possibility of interaction was minimal, because the audience was passive in relation to the media. The interpretation of events restricted the views of the public. This transition occurs in the media and citizens itself undergoes a process of crisis, transition and redesign its role. We will analyze this transition through the epistemology of social networks, then theories on public opinion, and, finally, the explanation of the theory of the agenda face to changing of scenarios.


When we deal with epistemology, we usually refer to the study of the origin, structure, methods and validity of knowledge, so it is also known as theory of knowledge. Here, we use the term epistemology in order to understand the phenomenon of social networking, i.e. explaining how the learning process occurs through networks at three levels: technical (new media), communicational (new models of communication) and political (new experience in power). The concept of social networks, here, is understood in the operational sense, that is, when a computer network connects a network of people, groups or organizations at all levels thus constituting a social network (Gustavoclopes, 2012, August).

Built, currently, the new scenarios for communication having on the one hand, the large media corporations, television broadcast, print and online and, on the other hand, the role of independent/altemative press, understood as not bound to a private, public or state-owned enterprise, or any economic group. Configures itself, little by little, the opposition between the conventional media and the independent/altemative press, having, as a support material, the new information technologies. Described below are some changes in this emerging scenario (Bavaresco & Konzen, 2009).

1.1 Logic of Network Society

In the opinion of Ivana Bentes Oliveira1, there is homogeneity among the newspapers and editorial lines in the conventional press. There is the conventional journalism model of large corporate company, which starts to use technology such as the internet or other electronic possibilities. However, it opens a new pluralistic scenario with the subject who starts to be a producer of media, that is, begins to produce information, analysis and interpretation of the facts. …

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