New Media, Political Discourse and Public Opinion: A Theoretical Analysis of Social Media Intertextuality and Discursivity and its Effect on Governance in Devolved Political Units in Kenya
Social media is an essential aspect of socialisation in Kenyan society. Within the context of political discourse, it plays an important role in expanding the democratic space by allowing citizens the space to have their voices heard. Counties are the emerging frontiers for economic and social development in the country. Therefore, it is critical for all citizens to participate equally in governance issues affecting the counties. This research sought to establish the level of citizen engagement in political discussion on social media and how this impacted on governance in the counties. It used a theoretical research approach to examine the various theories and practices of social media in political engagement. Engagement of local citizenry on social media was also assessed. The research was pegged on Herbamas Theory on the Public Sphere which posits that, for a public sphere to be adequate and fit-for-purpose for a democratic polity, it must have the capacity for quality interaction and discourse and quantity participation. Key findings: discursivity and intertextuality within the social media environment vastly improve the quality of political participation for citizens. The performance of public spheres within social media sites in the counties says a lot for increased participation of women, youth and minorities in political discourse at the grassroots. Recommendations: social media be inculcated in public policy at the grassroots by including it as a primary conduit of information and civic engagement.