Social Media Warfare Study by Academic Disciplines

A review of academic disciplines indicates that several of them will eventually provide research in the area of social media warfare, just as they have on general Internet use and specific uses of social media. Currently, it is clear that military science is well ahead of other disciplines in terms of actual attention being allocated to the impact of social media on warfare and conflict situations. The work emerging from military science will be discussed in Chapter 3: “Military Applications of Social Media Warfare.”

Other disciplines can make considerable contributions to the study of the use of the Internet and social media. However, academic disciplines are often slow to initiate research streams in new areas primarily because of a lack of funding for such research. The lack of funding is unfortunate because there is much to be researched. It is unlikely that funding will be increased in the near future given the increasing feeling of disdain for science and academia that the conservative electorate has brought to the legislative process. This attitude has spilled over into many areas resulting in a lack of funding for research topics that conservatives are afraid to address, such as gun violence in the United States.

The conservative dominance of the budget process and the deliberate avoidance of science to help guide policy making have become pervasive. The existence of climate change, for example, is denied by most conservative elected officials who have taken steps backward into a time when creationism was the dominant theory of the beginning of Earth and the origin of the species. But conservatives also have adopted other counterproductive stances, such as cutting off poor families from food stamp programs and refusing to address the rates of suicide and homelessness among military veterans in the United States.

Meanwhile, a review of academic programs listed by the National Center for Education Statistics in its 2000 edition of the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) shows several academic disciplines that can and will eventually provide more insight into social media warfare. Based on this review of the CIP, the academic disciplines that can contribute to the understanding of social media warfare are

  • ? Mass communication/media studies programs that focus on the analysis and criticism of media institutions—how people experience and understand media content; the roles of media in producing and transforming culture; the social and cultural effects of mass media; and the psychological and behavioral aspects of media messages, interpretation, and utilization.
  • ? Political communication programs that focus on human and media communication in the political process—media effects and image management; political journalism; and the production and distribution of media messages in political settings.
  • ? Social psychology programs that focus on the study of individual behavior in group contexts, group behavior, and associated phenomena—social learning theory, group theory and dynamics; social cognition and inference; attribution theory; attitude formation, criminal behavior, and other social pathologies.
  • ? Sociology programs that focus on the systematic study of human social institutions and social relationships—social theory and social organization and structure; social stratification and hierarchies; dynamics of social change; social deviance and control; and specific social groups, social institutions, and social problems.

The basic applied theories guiding most of this analysis are based on a sociological perspective of organizational structure and interaction as well as interactions between social institutions, organizations, and individuals. The central guiding philosophy is rooted in conflict theory and is heavily influenced by the work of C. Wright Mills.

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