Locating Civic Engagement through Social Media during Calamities: The Philippine Experience

By Maria Divina Gracia Roldan.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social media has shown its potential in the preventive and remedial aspects of disaster management. Twitter, in particular, is used by a significant number of people, as a means to quickly spread information and communicate with one other during disasters. In the case of Typhoon Haiyan, citizens and various civic groups have resorted to social media to exchange information on the disaster situation, to reach those affected, and to generate support for relief efforts. In the past typhoons, such as Ondoy (Ketsana in 2009) and Maring (in 2013), private initiatives of individuals, netizens, and their online communities have paved the way for relief efforts through online sites such as, #Rescueph and #Maringph, which allow the public to work with government in times of calamities. This study seeks to address the overall question: How is civic engagement manifested in the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook during calamities as seen in the Philippine experience? More specifically: What are the themes and patterns emerging from social media discourses during Typhoon Haiyan?; What sentiments and opinions do Twitter users transmit through disaster tweets?; In what ways are resources mobilized and disaster support and relief generated for those affected by the calamities? The study examines civic participation and the role of new media in disaster response and management. It gives an additional dimension on online community building and civic engagement during disasters in the Philippine context. The study employs discourse analysis and natural language processing tools in analyzing social media content including tweets during Typhoon Haiyan.

Keywords: Civic Engagement, Social Media, Disasters

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication, Volume 10, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-7. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 300.589KB).

Dr. Maria Divina Gracia Roldan

Associate Professor, Political Science, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines